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On March 11, 2021, President Joseph Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) into law. The $1.9T package, based on the President’s American Rescue Plan, is intended to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, including the public health and economic impacts. The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) program, a part of the American Rescue Plan, delivers $350B to state, local, and Tribal governments across the country to support their response to and recovery from COVID-19.
Over the past year, the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) has awarded and allocated almost $130M through HB21-1329 and SB21-242, and almost $150M overall, for housing recovery and resiliency efforts across Colorado.
Investments in Affordable Housing
HB21-1329 creates the Affordable Housing & Home Ownership Cash Fund in Colorado's state treasury. It also appropriates $98.5M from the Fund to DOLA’s Division of Housing in response to the public health emergency caused by COVID-19 or its adverse economic impact. This includes programs or services that benefit populations, households, or regions disproportionately affected by the pandemic, such as those with housing insecurity, lack of affordable housing, and/or homelessness.
SB21-242 allows the Division of Housing (DOH) within the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) to use the Housing Development Grant Fund for rental assistance, tenancy support service programs, and a grant or loan program to provide affordable housing or noncongregate shelter to homeless individuals by renting, buying, or renovating underutilized hotels, motels, or other properties that are underutilized. As a result of the act, individuals experiencing homelessness are now eligible for tenancy support and rental assistance programs. This act also transfers $30M from the Affordable Housing & Home Ownership Cash Fund to the Housing Development Grant Fund for these supports and programs.
Combined, these bills addressed the ongoing housing needs of Coloradans by appropriating $128.5M to the State's Department of Local Affairs in 2021. Since the funds were appropriated in 2021, DOLA’s Division of Housing and its partners statewide have been busy putting these new funding sources into action. Through three funding notices, the Division of Housing (DOH) awarded more than $149M for more than 7,500 new or preserved affordable housing units being supported. The Division of Housing (DOH) was able to award even more by using other funds designated for state housing needs as shown in the tables below.
Programs and Awards
|Operation Turn Key (OTK) Acquisition||
Short term, low interest loans to support the acquisition of underutilized properties to benefit extremely low income individuals and those experiencing homelessness.
Rental and services support for individuals experiencing homelessness.
Funds repaid with permanent financing
|Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF)||Division of Housing to loan capital into nonprofits, Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), traditional financial institutions, and affordable housing investment funds.||
Division of Housing funds leverage affordable housing financing already being undertaken by partner funds.
|Enhanced DOH Gap (EDG)||Division of Housing granting funds alongside Colorado Housing & Finance Authority (CHFA) Round 1 (9%) Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) awards||
HB21-1271 and the Local Officials Toolkit
In order to create innovative solutions to affordable housing across the state, HB21-1271 creates three different programs within DOLA that offer grant money and other forms of state assistance to local governments. These programs include the 1) Local Government Affordable Housing Development Incentives Grant Program 2) Local Government Planning Grant Program; and 3) The Affordable Housing Guided Toolkit and Local Officials Guide Program (Housing Toolkit Program).
Local Government Affordable Housing Development Incentives Grant Program
The Local Government Affordable Housing Development Incentives Grant Program (IHOI) provides grants to local governments to develop one or more affordable housing developments in their community that are livable, vibrant, and driven by community benefits.
Grant Program Details:
- These incentive grants can help cover tap fees, infrastructure, parks/playgrounds and other needs and amenities that support the affordable housing project.
- Projects are encouraged to provide community benefits (e.g., covering tap fees or infrastructure costs for an affordable housing project and/with a child care center, for example).
- A small portion can be used for needs and amenities in the neighborhood where the affordable housing development is located.
- To qualify, local governments must adopt at least three strategies from the menu of policy and regulatory options listed in the program guidelines.
Read more about the Local Government Affordable Housing Development Incentives Grant Program, here.
Local Government Planning Grant Program
The Local Government Planning Grant Program (IHOP) provides grants to local governments to help them understand their housing needs and adopt policy and regulatory strategies to qualify for the Affordable Housing Development Incentives Grant Program.
Grant Program Details
- The Planning Grant Program can fund housing needs assessments to help local governments guide their policy and regulatory approach to reducing barriers to affordable housing development, but the application for funding must also include work to adopt a qualifying strategy (from the options listed in the bill).
- Approximately $6,816,000 is available for Planning Grant awards.
- Individual Planning Grant awards are expected to be approximately $50,000-$200,000.
- Applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with their DOLA Regional Manager and to get input from CDO staff before submitting a Planning Grant Program application.
- Applications can be submitted anytime through the Division of Local Government Online Grants Portal.
- Applications are reviewed and awarded on a rolling basis monthly until funds are depleted.
- Grantees are encouraged to complete their qualifying planning work as quickly as possible so they may compete for the Incentives Grant Program, which is expected to open for a main funding round in fall 2022.
Read more about the Local Government Planning Grant Program, here.
The Affordable Housing Guided Toolkit and Local Officials Guide Program (Housing Toolkit Program)
The Housing Toolkit Program is created under the Division of Housing in the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA). Counties, municipalities, and federally recognized tribes are selected in a competitive process based on their commitment to adopting best land use practices that have demonstrated success in establishing affordable housing within the state.
As part of the program, local governments will be provided with technical assistance to help them develop housing policies that meet the needs of their residents and communities. In addition, these organizations may be able to facilitate and support the development of affordable housing sites in their communities, as well as attract developers who will make such an investment in the area.
This toolkit will include:
- Affordable Housing Development 101 Training - 1 hour in-person/remote training
- Affordable Housing Development for Local Officials - 1/2 day in-person/remote training
- Technical Assistance- Intensive, customized assistance for four communities each year through 2025
- Web-Based Affordable Housing Development Resource
- July - September 2022 - Stakeholder Outreach & Engagement
- Q1 2023 - 101 Trainings Available
- Q2 2023 - Local Officials Training Available
- Q2 2023 - Web-Based Resource Available
- Ongoing - Technical Assistance for Qualifying Communities
What's Next: The Impact of Housing Legislation
During this most recent legislative session, the legislature made a landmark investment in everything from the continuum of homelessness needs to innovations in housing construction to new homebuyer funding.
|HB22-1304 State Grant Investments Local Affordable Housing||
This bill two state grant programs:
|HB22-1377 - Homelessness Grant Program||This program connects Coloradans experiencing homelessness with services, recovery care, and housing support grant programs, administered by the Division of Housing (DOH). The grant program provides grants to local governments and nonprofit organizations to enable those entities to make investments and improvements in their communities or regions of the state to address and respond to the needs of people experiencing homelessness.|
|SB22-159 - Revolving Loan Fund Invest Affordable Housing||This bill creates the Transformational Affordable Housing Revolving Loan Fund Program in the Division of Housing (DOH) in the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA). The loan program provides flexible, low-interest, and below-market rate loan funding to assist eligible recipients in completing the eligible loan projects.|
|SB22-160 - Loan Program Resident-Owned Communities||This bill establishes a Revolving Loan & Grant Program to provide assistance and financing to mobile home owners seeking to organize and purchase their mobile home parks.|
The Department of Local Affairs’ approach to the delivery of these programs has been and will continue to be leveraging all of the resources available to ensure that Coloradans facing eviction, facing homelessness, and/or who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic can access all of the assistance they are eligible for.
The overall impact of these programs is significant, with far less families evicted and more applicants having opportunities to stabilize their housing.