Policy Blog – Maximum Unrelated Occupants in a Home
I want to draw your attention to item 10j on the agenda tonight. I’ve received several email comments from the 80016 area code (Tallyn’s Reach/Ward 6) and I wanted to explain why I am sponsoring the resolution tonight and will be pursuing a formal amendment to our Unified Development Ordinance in the months to come.
We’re about to experience an eviction tsunami with up to 400,000 Coloradans being evicted and potentially rendered homeless due to COVID-19 income loss and the end of enhanced unemployment benefits (a reduction of $2,400/mo. in income). Increasing the maximum limit of unrelated folks who can share a household from 4 to 6 allows another two people to live in the same home, provided the square footage per occupant requirement is met (150 square feet per occupant). Not everyone will choose to do this, but it does provide another legal housing option for folks who don’t have strong support networks and would otherwise be on the streets.
I want to stress legal because anyone who has ever canvassed their community knows that there are already households who go beyond our current occupancy limit. The reality is that we’ve been in a housing crisis long before COVID-19 reached our shores, and that this crisis is only exacerbating the precarious nature of many of our residents’ living conditions. Upping this limit acknowledges what is already happening in our city and gives those folks who are just getting by a little peace of mind and shows them that their city council has their backs.
In addition to preparing for the eviction tsunami and addressing the reality we live in, raising the limit increases the ability for folks currently experiencing homelessness to find permanent shelter. Many of our unhoused neighbors are employed and unable to attain housing due to the steep cost, and allowing them to split that cost with 5 other people will make it more likely for them to become housed. Our Homelessness Program Director laid out a succinct and compelling case for how this will be beneficial for overall community stability at our last Housing, Redevelopment, and Neighborhood Services policy committee meeting and I will ask her to reiterate those points tonight.
The question tonight is not about property values, overcrowding, or empowering landlords. It is about whether or not you want to give a few more people the option of becoming your neighbor or whether or not you want to see more unhoused people on the streets of Aurora. I’d choose more neighbors every time.
Data on the upcoming eviction wave can be found here.
General information on eviction rates can be found here. Aurora ranks #33 in the nation, compared to Denver at #127.