Colorado Latino voters say affordable housing policies have not reached their communities, new poll finds

Survey results also show that gun violence, reproductive rights and health care costs are key priorities for voters

Andrew Maciejewski/Summit Daily News
A workforce housing project is pictured under construction in Breckenridge on Sept. 7, 2023.
Andrew Maciejewski/Summit Daily News

More than 3 in 4 registered Latino voters in Colorado polled for a recent survey said they have not seen progress on affordable housing in their communities, despite talk from politicians. 

The findings, part of a July survey of 1,600 Latino voters by the Colorado Latino Policy Agenda that was publicly released Wednesday, Sept. 13, also found that voters want to see more action from state and local officials to expand affordable housing and protect renters. 

“You see, unfortunately, that’s driven by the underlying context of a lot of financial hardship still facing large segments of the Latino population across the state,” said Gabriel Sanchez, whose national polling firm BSP Research conducted the study in all seven of Colorado’s congressional districts. 

Cost of living was the single top issue at both the federal and state level for Latino voters, according to survey results. Other major priorities included reducing gun violence, lowering health care costs and protecting reproductive rights. 

In the past year, 67% said their financial situation has become worse or stayed the same while 66% of renters have seen rent increases, mostly between $100 and $300. Less than a quarter said they can comfortably afford where they live, while 34% said they can barely or cannot afford where they live, and 42% said they can somewhat afford where they live. 

More than three-fourths of surveyed voters said they would support more action from the state to ensure cities and towns build affordable housing, as well as legislation aimed at preventing unjust evictions and protecting renters whose landlords unjustly break a lease. 

“At the end of the day, we see essentially the foundation for what you might think of a renter’s bill of rights, or a set of policies aimed at ensuring that they’re not taken advantage of,” Gabriel Sanchez said. 

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Alex Sanchez, president and CEO for the Latino-advocacy group Voces Unidas, said while there have been “wonderful policies and ideas and ballot initiatives that have been passed over the last three of four years” related to affordable housing, much of that has been focused on urban environments. 

“Many of those programs may be for teachers and police officers and that’s great. But in rural Colorado, that’s where (Latinos) are least represented in terms of those jobs and professions,” Alex Sanchez said. 

“Until we get housing for the landscaper, the construction worker, the front and back of the house in a restaurant or a hotel, we’re still not getting to the working families who are desperately in need of housing,” he added. 

Alex Sanchez said this is especially acute in Colorado’s mountain communities, where Voces Unidas is based and where rent and home costs are “disproportionate to the rest of the state.” 

In Summit County, a recent housing study revealed stark disparities in the housing experiences of Spanish speakers compared to English-speaking residents. Spanish speakers reported higher rates of moving because of an eviction, overcrowded housing, living in hotels and renting without a lease agreement. 

It also showed a major income gap, with most Spanish-speaking families reporting an annual income of $75,000 and below while more than 75% of English-speaking households said they earned $75,000 or more.

“Oftentimes, decision makers don’t take into account all of these different nuances depending on where someone lives, rural area, how it impacts different families,” said Dusti Gurule, president and CEO for the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights. 

Conducting the statewide poll was critical, Gurule said, so “we don’t guess, or decision makers don’t guess.” 

Gabriel Sanchez of BSP Research said it speaks to the need for policymakers to further engage with Latino voters on policies that may not be reaching their communities, such as housing. 

“The full sample indicates 76% of Latino voters in the state of Colorado would support a candidate who makes lower rent and more affordable housing their main, dominant policy priority to address in office,” he said. 

“The data speaks very loudly to the fact it’s still a housing crisis, and Latino voters will reward elected officials who act on that.” 

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