Hard hats and shovels

Proposition 123

A Letter from Pikes Peak Habitat Executive Director/CEO Kris Lewis

Thank you, Colorado voters who passed Proposition 123 in November 2022! While acknowledging that our lack of affordable housing won’t be solved with just one policy, fund or measure, we believe Prop 123 is a needed and valuable tool to expand the number of affordable units in Colorado. Funds from this initiative will allow cities throughout the state to determine how best to locally invest in workforce housing solutions.

Such investment is desperately needed. The cost of housing in Colorado Springs has far outpaced wages. The median home price here in December 2022 was $400,500. Rent rose to an average $1,587 in April-June 2022, according to research by Ronald Throupe, a professor at the University of Denver College of Business.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that hourly wages in Colorado Springs are lower than the nationwide average, with community and social service workers around $25 per hour, and healthcare support staff at $17. Our public school teachers earn an average of $55,611 annually, as of January 2023.

The disparity between income and housing costs means that home ownership is unattainable for many workforce families. And as Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity has witnessed firsthand, high rent costs have forced hard choices. Too many in our community remain in residences plagued with plumbing issues, electrical hazards and rodents, or they tolerate high-crime neighborhoods because they cannot afford a safer location.

When nurses, teachers and first responders can’t afford to live in the communities where they work – or when they must sacrifice safety and health to keep a roof over their heads – we all suffer.

To those concerned about a decrease in TABOR refunds, we counter that affordable housing will benefit everyone. Increasing workforce homeownership opportunities will lead to more property taxes to support the infrastructure of our growing city and, more importantly, generate multi-generational stability and wealth. Manageable rent will enable essential workers to remain in Colorado. Lowering the percentage of income required for housing will increase what residents spend at local businesses, restaurants and attractions.

At a conservative estimate, Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity will double the number of homes we build and repair in El Paso County each year because of Prop 123. Our homeowners, including teachers, school bus drivers and veterans, invest “sweat equity” in building their own and their neighbors’ houses, and mortgages are capped at 30% of family income at the time they enter our program. This provides financial stability and long-term growth while allowing children to remain in their same schools with their friends, as their parents no longer need to repeatedly move to chase more affordable rent. Our mortgages include deed restrictions to prevent homeowners from flipping or renting out their properties, ensuring the homes that our volunteers build and donors fund remain as affordable housing inventory.

We also provide critical repairs so qualifying seniors, veterans and other homeowners may remain in their homes affordably and in a safer, healthier environment. We’re excited about the ways Prop 123 will help expand our capacity to serve El Paso County.

For those interested in hearing more about affordable housing, Pikes Peak Habitat and KRDO NewsRadio are hosting a Colorado Springs Mayoral Candidate Forum Feb. 28, 2023. The public is invited to attend this free event at the Ent Center for the Arts.

Building on Prop 123, let’s work together on workforce housing solutions so our teachers, daycare workers, nurses, first responders, and service and hospitality employees can continue to live and thrive in Colorado Springs and provide the education, safety, and health foundation the community needs.

Habitat banner that says Our vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live.