Affordable Housing Strategy and Action Plan

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What do you think about housing affordability in Wheat Ridge? Take a brief, four question survey below or by clicking here.

Housing Affordability in Wheat Ridge

In the mid-2000s, Wheat Ridge faced a lack of economic development opportunities and homeowner investment that concerned local leaders. Development opportunities that could improve the community were regularly choosing nearby cities instead of Wheat Ridge. Consequently, City officials made it a top priority at that time to improve the community’s quality of life and economic health while increasing its competitive position within the Denver region. Wheat Ridge was at a crossroads.

In those days before the Great Financial Crisis of 2008, a house in Wheat Ridge was relatively affordable. Fast forward to 2022 and things are more than a little bit different.

The median price for a house in Wheat Ridge is approaching $600,000 and the rental market is pushing one- and two-bedroom rents beyond $1,100 and $1,400 respectively. That means a new buyer household in Wheat Ridge likely needs an income of at least $150,000 per year (vs the 2020 median household owner income of $91,000) to afford a house. A renter needs an income of $56,000 to afford the median priced two-bedroom apartment (vs the 2020 median renter income of $42,000).

As of 2020, more than half of all Wheat Ridge renter households paid 30% or more of their household income toward housing costs. This is the government definition of unaffordability, or a “cost-burdened” household. Nearly one in four current Wheat Ridge owner households face similar affordability challenges, but the problem is more pronounced for new buyers today. New buyers likely have to have incomes in the top 20% of all U.S. households in order to purchase a house in Wheat Ridge.

This is new territory for Wheat Ridge, which as recently as five years ago was still working to revitalize itself and become more attractive and competitive within the Denver region. The strengthening local market is helpful in that regard, but City leaders are beginning to ask about the downsides of this good fortune.

This is the context within which the City has begun a new project–the Affordable Housing Strategy and Action Plan. It represents the first time the City of Wheat Ridge will specifically study housing affordability in the community and craft a policy approach toward whatever challenges are identified.


Project Basics

The purpose of the Affordable Housing Strategy and Action Plan is to:

  • Assess housing affordability challenges in the community;
  • Identify potential tools and resources that could help address challenges if they exist; and
  • Outline action steps that match the right tools and resources to the challenges.

The consulting firm czb—the same firm that assisted the City with the previous Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy (NRS) projects and experts on local government housing policy—has been hired to provide the necessary technical analysis, stakeholder outreach, and strategic recommendations. czb will work closely with City staff and City Council to develop a policy framework, a tool kit for implementation, and action steps to put the policies and tools to work.


Project Background

The City of Wheat Ridge has minimal policies related to housing affordability. Without this essential foundation, the City lacks direction on whether and how to take action to address affordability challenges. Recognizing this, the City applied for and was awarded a grant in October 2021 to create the City’s first Affordable Housing Strategy and Action Plan. The grant stems from the State Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) Affordable Housing Planning Grant Program and Colorado House Bill 21-1271, which offers state assistance to local governments to promote the development of innovative affordable housing strategies.

The project will be largely technical in nature with a comprehensive review of data, needs, gaps, and the variety of tools that can support different housing types.

Stay tuned to this page for project updates!

What do you think about housing affordability in Wheat Ridge? Take a brief, four question survey below or by clicking here.

Housing Affordability in Wheat Ridge

In the mid-2000s, Wheat Ridge faced a lack of economic development opportunities and homeowner investment that concerned local leaders. Development opportunities that could improve the community were regularly choosing nearby cities instead of Wheat Ridge. Consequently, City officials made it a top priority at that time to improve the community’s quality of life and economic health while increasing its competitive position within the Denver region. Wheat Ridge was at a crossroads.

In those days before the Great Financial Crisis of 2008, a house in Wheat Ridge was relatively affordable. Fast forward to 2022 and things are more than a little bit different.

The median price for a house in Wheat Ridge is approaching $600,000 and the rental market is pushing one- and two-bedroom rents beyond $1,100 and $1,400 respectively. That means a new buyer household in Wheat Ridge likely needs an income of at least $150,000 per year (vs the 2020 median household owner income of $91,000) to afford a house. A renter needs an income of $56,000 to afford the median priced two-bedroom apartment (vs the 2020 median renter income of $42,000).

As of 2020, more than half of all Wheat Ridge renter households paid 30% or more of their household income toward housing costs. This is the government definition of unaffordability, or a “cost-burdened” household. Nearly one in four current Wheat Ridge owner households face similar affordability challenges, but the problem is more pronounced for new buyers today. New buyers likely have to have incomes in the top 20% of all U.S. households in order to purchase a house in Wheat Ridge.

This is new territory for Wheat Ridge, which as recently as five years ago was still working to revitalize itself and become more attractive and competitive within the Denver region. The strengthening local market is helpful in that regard, but City leaders are beginning to ask about the downsides of this good fortune.

This is the context within which the City has begun a new project–the Affordable Housing Strategy and Action Plan. It represents the first time the City of Wheat Ridge will specifically study housing affordability in the community and craft a policy approach toward whatever challenges are identified.


Project Basics

The purpose of the Affordable Housing Strategy and Action Plan is to:

  • Assess housing affordability challenges in the community;
  • Identify potential tools and resources that could help address challenges if they exist; and
  • Outline action steps that match the right tools and resources to the challenges.

The consulting firm czb—the same firm that assisted the City with the previous Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy (NRS) projects and experts on local government housing policy—has been hired to provide the necessary technical analysis, stakeholder outreach, and strategic recommendations. czb will work closely with City staff and City Council to develop a policy framework, a tool kit for implementation, and action steps to put the policies and tools to work.


Project Background

The City of Wheat Ridge has minimal policies related to housing affordability. Without this essential foundation, the City lacks direction on whether and how to take action to address affordability challenges. Recognizing this, the City applied for and was awarded a grant in October 2021 to create the City’s first Affordable Housing Strategy and Action Plan. The grant stems from the State Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) Affordable Housing Planning Grant Program and Colorado House Bill 21-1271, which offers state assistance to local governments to promote the development of innovative affordable housing strategies.

The project will be largely technical in nature with a comprehensive review of data, needs, gaps, and the variety of tools that can support different housing types.

Stay tuned to this page for project updates!

Question About the Project?

If you have a question about this project, either post it here or email the "Who's Listening" staff members above, and we'll get back to you within one business day.  

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    There are a lot of different condos, apartments, townhouses being built in Wheat Ridge. For example, at 38th and Wads next to the old Lucky's (apartments), on 29th in between Sheridan and Wads (townhouses), and again on 38th next "the Green" (apartments). Can you give detailed information on % occupancy of these different projects? I think we need to consider how well received these current projects have been before planning any more apartments, condos, townhouses in the area. From an onlooker driving by there seems to be low occupancy. However, I actually have no clue if these projects are full of occupants. Thank you

    Caro asked 8 days ago

    Thanks for your insightful question.  We've flagged this for consideration in doing the analysis, if it hadn't been already.  

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    Thank you for taking on this important project, it is vital to the people in our community and for the well-being of our community! Question: How will this strategy interface with the City's policies and actions to help the homeless and nearly homeless? Question: Will the City consider differing levels of defining "affordable"? One definition can be for what we might call typical renters and home buyers. One definition, or category, can be for the homeless or nearly homeless who have no income or only minimal income. Question: How should the WR Urban Renewal Authority for the City consider the need for truly affordable housing in making investment decisions related to housing?

    Marcia asked 7 days ago

    Hello and thank you for the thoughtful question.  This strategy will look at the spectrum of housing need, and where the City could have the most impact - taking into account existing programs we already have underway.  The City has a fairly recently created Homelessness Program you can check out at: whatsupwheatridge.com/homelessness-is-a-shared-responsibility.  With this new homelessness program, this Affordable Housing Strategy will mostly be focused on the other needs along the housing spectrum - ranging from low income to above median income (as the area median income is now less than what one needs to "afford" a house, as explained on this page a bit more). 

    As for the City's Urban Renewal Authority, this project is exploring all the tools at the City's disposal to address the issue in the most impactful way that aligns with the identified needs (there will be a detailed needs assessment report as part of this). That is a good thought to make sure we're considering what, if any, their role could be as we look at the range of tools.  

Page last updated: 30 Jun 2022, 03:49 PM