Affordable housing in need of innovation in Colorado as Carson tours site

Private investors fuel public housing efforts

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AURORA, Colo. -- As rental prices rise, families in Colorado are struggling to find an affordable place to live. The city of Aurora is taking advantage of several program to offer economical rental solutions.

"Obviously we still have to concentrate on pricing, because you know that's an issue all over the country. It's particularly difficult here in Aurora area,” said United States Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson during a visit to Aurora.

Carson toured the Villages at Westerly Creek, a complex built using private investment in exchange for tax breaks.

The complex has close to 200 units, most of which are for seniors on a fixed income.

Fifty of the units are for people who have jobs with incomes ranging from $24,000 to $45,000 per year but can't manage to pay the rent.

A three bedroom apartment rents for $1,300 a month.

"We could probably build two of these a year for 10 years and still not meet the need. So there's definitely a huge demand for affordable housing," said Craig Maraschky, of the Aurora Housing Authority.

Another tool in the quest for affordable living space: Opportunity Zones. Privates investors can get more breaks if they spend in specific communities in need.  According to a government document, there are 125 zones in both rural and urban counties in Colorado.

Carson toured the facility that includes a public garden and exercise space.

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