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Proposed change to Denver code would allow more unrelated people to live together

Posted at 9:59 AM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-23 11:59:31-04

DENVER — A Denver law that’s been on the books since the 1980s could soon be changed to give residents more affordable housing options.

Right now, just two unrelated adults can legally live together in Denver.

But with the economic fallout of the pandemic increasing housing insecurity, Denver’s Community Planning and Development Department is proposing a rule change that would allow up to five unrelated people to live together.

“We know that Denver has an immediate need for housing and our recently adopted plans and policies have made it a priority,” Denver City Planner Andrew Webb said.

According to the planning department, allowing more people to live together in one home and split the rent could alleviate some financial burdens.

This proposed amendment to the city's code has been discussed for about two years, but the pandemic has reignited the discussion.

“These issues have become more urgent in the wake of the pandemic. We’ve already experienced a lot of job losses and we expect that will lead to a wave of evictions,” Webb said.

Last week, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis encouraged cities to temporarily relax rules on occupancy limits in response to housing insecurity.

Although this proposed rule change would be permanent, Webb told Denver7 it's something that's needed to happen for a while.

“We basically are wanting to bring our codes in line with how other cities regulate this. Most other cities have changed these restrictive types of codes years ago and most cities on the front range allow up to five unrelated people to live together,” Webb said.

Other proposed amendments to city code would prohibit commercial "rent-by-room" options in low-density residential neighborhoods and re-categorize residential care facilities (shelters, transitional housing, etc.) based on size and impact instead of the services they provide.

The amendments will be presented during the next planning board hearing Aug. 19.