DENVER — The Denver City Council signed off Monday on an unusual pilot program that will “buy down” the rent for 125 households so that they can afford to live in market-rate apartments and other rental housing.
Mayor Michael Hancock and city housing officials have portrayed the $1 million subsidy program as a targeted way to help some low- and middle-income families stay in Denver after years of fast-rising rents. The affordable housing program will function similarly to a popular housing voucher program overseen by the Denver Housing Authority but will help people who fall within a wider income range (up to $72,000 a year for a family of four).
The city is seeking employer partners to kick in money for the program in exchange for the participation of their workers. Among employers in talks to take part are St. Joseph Hospital and the Colorado Health Foundation.
But the program has critics, including some who fear that the city is only perpetuating high-market rents by helping owners of vacant rental units fill them.
Councilman Kevin Flynn made that point Monday before casting the sole “no” vote.