CUTLINE: From left: Mayor Sam Weaver, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge, U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, Boulder Housing Partners executive director Jeremy Durham. Lucas High/BizWest.

HUD secretary stresses cooperation, compassion in Boulder visit

BOULDER — U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge was visibly shocked Tuesday in Boulder when she learned from a reporter that the median sales price for homes in the city is north of $1 million.

“That’ll limit growth all on its own!” she exclaimed, echoing fears from local leaders that Boulder — named this week the country’s top place to live by the U.S. News & World Report — will stagnate as it becomes a place only millionaires will live. 

Fudge joined some of those leaders, along with U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Boulder, in a tour of a Boulder Housing Partners facility. While in the city, she also held a roundtable discussion with local stakeholders to discuss ways to reduce homelessness and increase housing accessibility. 

“Affordable housing is a subject that occupies a lot of our time here in Boulder,” Mayor Sam Weaver said, calling the topic “probably the most difficult challenge we face.”

Rising housing costs, which have far outpaced wage increases, have led to a supply shortage, Fudge said. The federal government must make policies to combat this phenomenon. 

That could come in the form of having the government actually build houses (under his Build Back Better Plan, Pres. Joe Biden has requested $300 million to build two million new housing units, for example) or supporting programs that encourage other groups to add to the housing supply such as increasing tax credits for developers or bolstering HUD’s Community Development Block Grant Program.

Neguse acknowledged that the federal government has little say in local issues such as land use or zoning, but leaders in Washington can “take steps that are complementary” to affordability efforts.

He pointed to the Affordable Housing Act of 2020, which closes certain loopholes and boosts the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, as an example. 

Regulations, whether locally or federally mandated, can be impediments for the development of new affordable housing stock by making the process more expensive for builders, he said. But in other cases — such as allowing developers to transition subsidized affordable units into market-rate housing within a short window of time — regulations may not be strong enough.

On a less policy-based and more humanistic level, the matter of increasing the supply of affordable housing relies on a willingness of the population, Fudge said. Too often, a lack of compassion and the “not in my backyard,” or NIMBY, mindset dooms affordable-housing efforts. 

“As long as you don’t want someone to live in your backyard who’s different from you, we’re going to have a problem,” she said. 

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BOULDER — U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge was visibly shocked Tuesday in Boulder when she learned from a reporter that the median sales price for homes in the city is north of $1 million.

“That’ll limit growth all on its own!” she exclaimed, echoing fears from local leaders that Boulder — named this week the country’s top place to live by the U.S. News & World Report — will stagnate as it becomes a place only millionaires will live. 

Fudge joined some of those leaders, along with U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Boulder, in a tour of a Boulder Housing Partners facility. While in the city, she also held a roundtable discussion with local stakeholders to discuss ways to reduce homelessness and increase housing accessibility. 

“Affordable housing is a subject that occupies a lot of our time here in Boulder,” Mayor Sam Weaver said, calling the topic “probably the most difficult challenge we face.”

Rising housing costs, which have far outpaced wage increases, have led to a supply shortage, Fudge said. The federal government must make policies to combat this phenomenon. 

That could come in the form of having the government actually build houses (under his Build Back Better Plan, Pres. Joe Biden has requested $300 million to build two million new housing units, for example) or supporting programs that encourage other groups to add to the housing supply such as increasing tax credits for developers or bolstering HUD’s Community Development Block Grant Program.

Neguse acknowledged that the federal government has little…