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DENVER – Growth in Colorado is a double-edged sword.
No one knows that better than residents in Denver’s Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods where property valuations are skyrocketing more than most.
Denver Assessor Keith Erffmeyer said the median valuation increase for single-family homes and townhomes citywide is 20%.
In some neighborhoods, the jump is much higher.
Rosa Iturbe’s home on North Fillmore in Elyria-Swansea went up 62% in value, jumping from $179,000 to $280,000.
Ms. Iturbe worries that the big jump in value will also mean a big increase in taxes that she can’t afford.
“We really don’t know options we have,” she said, through an interpreter. “If this keeps going up, we won’t be able to make the payment.”
Iturbe says she and her husband purchased the home 12 years ago for $96,000.
“The inside was okay, but the outside wasn’t," she said. "We worked hard to fix it up.”
They refinanced the property in 2013 when she went on disability. Now, they live on her husband’s pension. Their entire income goes to their monthly mortgage payment of $888 and their $1,000 a year property tax bill.
She told Denver7 that neighbors and family help with food and other expenses.
“It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “If we have to sell the home, what we can get out of it won’t be enough to get a house anywhere else.”
Other neighbors are worried too.
“Fifty percent of my income goes toward our mortgage,” said Robin Reichardt, who lives with his wife and children nearby.
When asked why valuations have jumped so much in the neighborhood, he said the main reason is that valuations have been historically low because of redlining and economic exclusion.
“For 100 years this neighborhood was devalued,” he said. “There was very little public investment.”
Reichardt said developers now see opportunity with the commuter rail line that cuts through the neighborhood, the upcoming expansion of the National Western Complex and the Central 70 project.
“Billions are pouring in," he said. “What we’ve seen is the speculative market exploding.”
He said the vacant AT&T property at 40th & Clayton might become a large mixed development project, which he said would have a significant impact on neighborhood residents.
"Without a clear policy and mitigation, the effect will be what we’ve seen in Five Point and the Northside, where a large percentage of the neighborhood is displaced over 5 to 10 years," Reichardt said.
Erffmeyer said homeowners won’t know how much taxes will go up until the mill levy is set in December.
“Not everybody’s taxes will go up,” he said. “Some will see a decrease. Those near the median will likely see an increase.”
Erffmeyer added that if a property owner does not agree with their valuations, “they can appeal to their county assessor, as long as the appeal is postmarked or received by the assessor no later than June 3, 2019.”
Denver has a program that can help some residents mitigate the financial burden of rising property taxes.
That program, which relaunches on May 1, was recently expanded to include not only seniors and people with disabilities but also lower income families.
They can also check this list of housing and property tax support systems.