Frisco leaders weigh unprecedented emergency declaration over housing

Jason Blevins
Colorado Sun

DENVER — As buyers continue to snatch up homes across Colorado, an unprecedented housing crisis is unfolding. Workers are losing their rental homes as new owners or investors pay record prices move in or convert them to their work-from-anywhere homes or short-term vacation investment homes.

At least two communities are pondering radical strategies to slow the rapid shifts in housing that many see threatening the vitality and even existence of communities that rely on armies of workers. In Frisco, leaders are pondering a first-ever official emergency declaration as they liken the unfolding housing crisis to a devastating flood or wildfire.

“It is an emergency that is threatening our lifestyles, our local businesses and our economy,” said Frisco Mayor Hunter Mortensen. “It’s the same as if we are threatened by flood or fire.”

Mortensen is pushing his town council to approve Colorado’s first official emergency declaration around housing. The formal declaration — a mechanism typically used for natural disasters, or, more recently, a pandemic — could possibly open avenues for federal funding as well as streamline Frisco’s budget policies to allow for speedy re-allocations of funds toward housing. (Colorado’s Democrat lawmakers on Monday ranked affordable housing among the top three priorities in their plan for spending $3.8 billion in federal coronavirus stimulus money given to Colorado, with as much as $150 million heading toward housing projects in the next month.)

“Everyone in Colorado is complaining about this problem. Business owners. Employers. Employees. Visitors. Local governments. Everyone. And they all put it back on the government to find a way to fix it,” Mortsensen said. “It’s time to fill the sandbags for the coming flood and the government cannot do that alone. We need a community wide effort and an emergency declaration is the first step in getting everyone we can to help.”

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