Making Boulder Affordable

Boulder, Colorado is the least affordable city in America that is not in California, Hawaii, or the New York City urban area. Boulder’s unaffordability is directly due to a combination of land-use policies, including a greenbelt that is nine times larger than the city itself and limits on the number of building permits that the city can issue each year.

Click image to download this report. Click the link below to go to an executive summary of the report.

A new report published by Colorado’s Independence Institute argues that these land-use policies violate the Fair Housing Act and must be repealed. Thanks to these policies, the black population of Boulder is declining despite the fact that the city’s overall population is growing. Boulder also has one of the lowest homeownership rates of any city in the country, and it is especially low for blacks, who, more than whites, are increasingly forced to live in high-density, multifamily housing instead of single-family homes.

Denver isn’t as unaffordable as Boulder, but an urban-growth boundary has made it less affordable than many other urban areas. This is also beginning to have an effect on black populations.

Under the Department of Housing & Urban Development’s disparate-impact rule, land-use laws that make housing expensive and force low-income minorities to leave are legally the equivalent of putting up a sign saying, “No blacks allowed.” The Supreme Court has endorsed this interpretation of the law, and while it is controversial, Boulder, Denver, and other cities that have made housing expensive are vulnerable to civil-rights lawsuits.

Although written for Colorado, this report is similar to a report previously published about Hawaii’s land-use policies by the Grassroots Institute and another about Oregon’s land-use laws published by the Cascade Policy Institute. All of these places are ripe for a challenge to local land-use laws on fair housing grounds.

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3 thoughts on “Making Boulder Affordable

  1. FantasiaWHT

    Using FHA for a disparate impact claim is a cure worse than the disease. That opens up all kinds of mischief for people who demand central planning of development.

  2. prk166

    Ah yes, when Trump’s administration puts on hold some Persian granny visiting her grandson in LA he’s a racist. But when Boulder’s policies result in a minority population that is a 1/4th of the Colorado average — and the state average is already pretty damn low — they’re not hateful, they’re progressive.

  3. Frank

    “and it is especially low for blacks, who, more than whites, are increasingly forced to live in high-density, multifamily housing instead of single-family homes”

    Blacks aren’t being “forced” to live in Boulder or in multi-family housing. They, like everyone else the, choose to live in Boulder and are free to leave at any time. Their revealed preference is for living in Boulder rather than living in a single-family home. If living in a SFH were more important, they would move to a more affordable community.

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