Housing Issues on the 2020 Colorado Ballot
On Nov. 3, Colorado voters will decide on several key issues related to affordable housing.
At the state level, Proposition EE would increase taxes on cigarettes and tobacco products, and would implement the state’s first tax on vaping and other nicotine products. The bulk of funds generated would be targeted to public schools and providing free preschool for children across Colorado, while also making $35 million available for housing assistance through 2023. (After 2023, none of this revenue would be directed to housing.)
These funds could go toward housing development, defined to include renovation or new home construction and rental assistance, and eviction legal assistance for low-income individuals. At least $5 million would be invested in housing development in rural Colorado. Funds would be administered by the Colorado Division of Housing.
Colorado voters will also determine whether to repeal the Gallagher Amendment to the state constitution through Amendment B. Established in 1982, the Gallagher Amendment requires that residential property taxes not make up more than 45% of the state’s overall property tax base, meaning nonresidential taxes make up the other 55%.
Since Gallagher’s enactment, residential property values have risen far more quickly than for nonresidential property, leading to nonresidential properties being taxed about four times as much as residential. That increase in residential values has also prompted the state legislature to periodically adjust the residential tax rate downward, from 21% in 1983 to down to the current rate of 7.15%.
This low rate saves homeowners money, but has meant far less in government funds for public services, with particular implications for small and rural areas of the state. If Gallagher stays in place, residential property taxes are projected to continue to fall. If it were repealed, residential owners’ rate would be fixed at 7.15%. See our partners' resource for more.
Denver residents will vote on Measure 2B, which would increase sales tax by 0.25% on most products in order to create a new Homelessness Resolution Fund. In non-Covid years, the tax is estimated to generate $40 million annually for a variety of activities to address homelessness.
Supported activities would include:
- Building new housing
- Expanding shelter capacity to help sustain the city’s Covid emergency response and regrow capacity for the future
- Increasing the city’s ability to meet the needs of chronically homeless individuals through permanent supportive housing and other innovative solutions
The fund would be administered by Denver’s Department of Housing Stability.