Cripple Creek Joins Colorado Affordable Housing Push

Officials Seek to Increase Stock of Workforce Units with Voter-Approved Monies

Rick Langenberg

In a decision that didn’t offer any big surprises, the city of Cripple Creek has jumped on the state’s affordable housing bandwagon.

By a unanimous vote, the council agreed last week agreed to officially opt-in to Colorado’s Proposition 123 program, part of a voter approved ballot initiative to release funds for workforce housing in areas that participate. With this move, Cripple Creek hopes prospective developers for these projects can get a share of the potential jackpot of $320 million being dished out a year for participating communities annually over a several year period.

“Opting-in is a wise move,” said Special Projects Director Jeff Mosher, who doesn’t see any down side to this action.

By taking this action, Cripple Creek is committed to developing 10 to 21 affordable units over the next few years. An affordable housing unit in Cripple Creek is described as a new house, priced between $200,000 and $280,000, and a rental property with a monthly rate of between $830 and $1,400.

“Is that an achievable number?” asked Mayor Pro Tem Melissa Trenary, when querying Mosher about the city’s commitment.

Mosher expressed confidence in meeting this goal, and stated he had been contacted by interested developers. He said the goal of the program is to increase a participating community’s stock of affordable housing by 9 percent in three years.

If the town falls short, Mosher said the Cripple Creek area would not be eligible state monies for 2027, and could reapply at a later date.

The program doesn’t provide the funds to the city itself, but makes it available for developers of these specific projects, who apply for assistance through the Department of Housing and Colorado Housing and Finance Authority. If developers construct a dwelling that exceeds the affordable level cited, it wouldn’t qualify for the government funds and would be considered a market value property.

But the city is mainly embarking on plans to open the doors to all forms of housing. The lack of housing is considering the community’s main challenge.

“We need all available types of housing,” said City Administrator Frank Salvato at a previous meeting.

The city in 2021 took a major housing gamble by offering major perks for developers doing workforce housing projects by offering water and sewer tap fee waivers. Recently, the council cut back slightly on these waivers by opting to review these projects on a case-by-case basis. It is now favoring lowering these fees by possibly 50 percent, instead of granting a full 100-percent fee waiver. Leaders are getting worried about footing the bill for major infrastructure costs without recouping these costs.

Still, the city is offering some of the best deals in the area for developers and builders, even with the slight cutback in incentives.

In other action, the council approved a plan for the Freeman Annexation, a 4.5 acre area, owned by John and Karen Freeman and the CC/V Gold Mine. The Freemans are the owners of The Creek restaurant and have been involved with a number of business deals in the community. This could open the door for more housing and retail. A public hearing on this issue is scheduled for Aug. 16.

The city is currently considering a few major annexation area that could boost its housing supplies. The town also agreed to up its electrical charging station capabilities through a contract with Compass Evolutionary  Technologies.