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Colorado Edges Toward Rent Control

A measure that would lift an almost 40-year-old ban on rent control in Colorado is moving closer to enactment, the most significant step toward changing the state law since home prices and rents began surging after the recession.

The five members of the State, Veterans and Military Committee voted 3-2 on Monday to refer to the full Senate a measure that would allow local governments to create their own rules around rent stabilization, reversing a 1981 law that prohibits rent control measures on the municipal level. The Colorado Senate committee heard four hours of testimony from people both in support of and opposition to the measure before passing the bill along party lines, with Republicans Paul Lundeen and Vicki Marble voting against it.

Sen. Mike Foote, committee chairman and one of the bill sponsors, said "creative solutions" are needed for the growing statewide affordable housing problem.

“This may not be the exact answer," he said before the vote. "But there is no better way to get a real conversation going."

Colorado is the latest state to look to rent control as one way to tackle the growing affordable housing problem gripping cities nationwide. Oregon recently became the first state in the nation to pass mandatory rent control. Others are looking to follow suit including Washington and California, where state and local officials are introducing new legislation after failing to repeal a rent control prohibition law in 2018.

The bill, SB 19-225, is aimed at helping Colorado renters after years of average rent increases that have outstripped gains in average wages.

Rent increases have been most dramatic in the Denver area amid a for-sale housing shortage that has kept people renting longer than in previous years. Average apartment rents have increased by almost twice as much as incomes in the area.

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