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Denver's rent buy-down program set to launch later than expected with 125 apartments

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Posted at 7:17 AM, May 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-24 09:17:37-04

DENVER -- When Denver Mayor Michael Hancock underlined the urgency of the city’s housing affordability crisis in a speech last summer, he declared: “Many residents need an affordable option today, not a year from now.”

But that’s how long it will end up taking to launch the potentially innovative initiative Hancock announced with those words in July 2017. The plan then was to use taxpayer money to “buy down” the rents of vacant market-rate apartments for 400 low- and middle-income households at risk of being priced out of Denver, with some employers kicking in money to help house their employees.

City housing officials said Wednesday that the program, which garnered national attention following Hancock’s announcement, is finally primed to launch in August — long after the initial target of last fall.

And when it does, the 125 households available in the pilot phase will be less than half the number first pegged by the mayor. Each would receive up to two years of subsidized rent, and the city is preparing to lay out nearly $1 million for rent subsidies and $180,000 for administrative costs to serve as seed money for a program that could grow in participants if more contributing employers sign up.

As the city staffs up its housing division and makes plans for more programs to address the affordable housing challenge, the drawn-out experience of launching the rent buy-down initiative — called the Lower Income Voucher Equity (LIVE) Program — illustrates the challenges officials face.

Read the full story at denverpost.com.