A new survey details how Colorado’s rent prices keep the state’s young residents from seeking medical care, buying groceries and pursuing a college degree — and it found a majority of young Coloradans support rent stabilization policies.
The survey, released Monday by progressive youth advocacy organization New Era Colorado, polled 506 Coloradans between 18 and 34. and was weighted by gender, race, ethnicity, education and voter registration to match the characteristics of Colorado’s 18-to-34-year-old population, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, according to New Era Colorado.
“We’re creating an environment in Colorado where we’re radicalizing young people to get involved in politics because if they can’t afford to live, pay their medical debt, their student loans, then people are going to start getting involved to change that,” said Tash Berwick, New Era Colorado political director.
A map produced by New Era Colorado using Census Bureau data illustrates a breakdown of Colorado counties by the number of young people cost-burdened by rent — paying more than 30% of their income toward housing, New Era Colorado said.
In Colorado’s 10 counties with the most young renters, at least 40% paid more than 30% of their income toward housing, New Era found, including 60% of young households in Boulder County, 52% in El Paso County and 42% in Denver.
In 17 of Colorado’s 64 counties, at least half of households pay unaffordable rent, New Era found.
“Young people are saying loud and clear (and Gov. Polis agrees) that rent is too damn high in Colorado,” said Nicole Hensel, executive director of New Era Colorado, in a news release. “This survey shows that young people across the state increasingly can’t afford to live here — giving up careers, families and futures in Colorado. Young people deserve to live where their lives are.”
How does that housing unaffordability impact Colorado’s young adults? New Era’s survey found:
- Nearly 25% of surveyed youth neglected a medical appointment
- 19% went without a behavioral health appointment to make rent
- About 34% of young people skipped groceries to pay rent
- About 26% of those surveyed passed up an opportunity for a college degree to pay for housing
- Nearly 40% of young people said they planned to leave Colorado to find more affordable housing
These survey results matter, Berwick said, because they show legislators what their constituents want. Young Coloradans, who New Era said comprise the largest voting bloc in the state and turn out in record numbers, want to see bold action, Berwick said, no matter their political party.
Meanwhile, eight in 10, or 81%, of young people supported giving local governments the option to place limits on how much landlords can raise rent each year, including almost half, or 48%, of young Republicans surveyed and 96% of young Democrats in Colorado
“At the Capitol, we often get really stuck in these binaries about which party is so far left and which is so far right, but when you look at the data, the policies people really want are more bipartisan than we think,” Berwick said.
When asked whether they would support or oppose rent stabilization policies that would ensure renters have reasonable, predictable rents, 91% of survey respondents supported rent stabilization policies, including 68% of Republican respondents and 97% of Democrat respondents.
“Young adults are especially hard hit by outrageous rent prices charged by some greedy corporate landlords,” said Carmen Medrano, the co-chair of Colorado Homes for All. “When four out of 10 young people say they won’t be able to stay in the communities they grew up in because they can’t afford housing, we have a real problem.”
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