Colorado Association of REALTORS | 50-state research aims to identify nation’s most innovative housing solutions
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50-state research aims to identify nation’s most innovative housing solutions

50-state research aims to identify nation’s most innovative housing solutions

The Colorado Association of REALTORS® (CAR) has completed a 50-state research analysis designed to identify the most innovative and successful programs being implemented to address the full spectrum of housing issues facing communities across the United States.

From affordability and product type to inventory needs, CAR’s research set out to help identify what state and local governments, public and private businesses, and individual communities are doing to tackle a broad range of issues impacting nearly every state. The analysis revealed distinct common attributes of the most successful programs that included bold, innovative, out-of-the-box thinking to address housing shortages, as well as a clear cooperation and participation in program implementation from the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors to address the full spectrum of housing issues.

In addition, the analysis revealed the work being done in a handful of states starting to dip their toe into the employer side of the equation and housing supply issues. The report highlights the success of first-time homebuyer savings accounts and the growing number of states pursuing legislation similar to Colorado.

CAR will be introducing legislation in 2019 that expands the Colorado first-time homebuyer savings account program to give employers an opportunity to match their employee contributions to their own savings accounts as a near term device that enables both the employer and the employee to pitch in and contribute money to save for that first home purchase and allowing employers to help their employees save faster to purchase a home.

The analysis also revealed a growing list of creative ideas and programs coming from collective partnerships and non-traditional partners working towards a common goal.

“Although we can’t neglect the public sector systems that provide important foundational and critical programs, we need to think more in terms of driving our possibilities with a multi-pronged approach,” said Liz Peetz, CAR’s Vice President of Government Affairs. “That means we need strategic input, measurable data and impact goals that can drive us to new types of solutions that leverage the best that each sector has to offer.”

CAR’s report revealed that the shared risks, shared goals, and shared thought partnerships can be game changers, breaking down traditional silos, diffusing tensions and creating new opportunities that are more dynamic and flexible to suit state and local government community needs for the present and future.

Finally, the analysis looked at overall housing supply and the issues surrounding affordability and attainable solutions.

“We are at a time when we should evolve beyond these two phrases and think about housing as an entire spectrum because everyone needs better options, whether it’s a vulnerable subpopulation where supportive housing is necessary to meet basic needs, or a new family looking to invest in their future, to our senior citizens whose needs are changing as they retire,” said Peetz. “Housing is one of the ways that we can bridge gaps and build strong communities, so our challenge is to be bold, bring the unorthodox and the new ideas to the table. Homeownership is the American dream, so it’s time that we think about how to protect and enable that dream to be a reality for everyone.”

Some of the communities with the most innovative and successful housing programs discovered in the nationwide analysis include:

  • Kansas City, Missouri – The Kansas City Housing Committee approved a measure in November 2018 to utilize the scooter fee collected by the city and put those dollars toward affordable housing. Scooter companies, Bird and Lime, pay $1 a day for every scooter which generates about $300,000 per year in additional revenue for the city.
  • Idaho – The Idaho Housing and Finance Association (Idaho Housing) is a self-supporting corporation that must generate all revenue to cover the cost of its operations. Idaho Housing earns fees for work performed and does not use any state-appropriated funds. There is also a Home Partnership Foundation, an independent 501(c)(3), that accepts charitable donations from employers, private citizens, developers, local governments, and others to help communities meet their most pressing housing needs.
  • Juneau, Alaska – House Build is a partnership between the University of Alaska Southeast, Juneau School District, and the Juneau Housing Trust. This program gives students real world construction experience that can be applied toward a degree or certification. All housing built through the program is used to address the affordable housing needs in Juneau.
  • Vail, Arizona – The Vail Unified School District found a creative solution to help its teachers by constructing a tiny home village on land purchased by the district to help educators stay in the communities where they teach.
  • Maine – with an affordable housing tax increment financing program that offers municipalities flexible financing tools, the state program allows municipalities to designate a specific area as the affordable housing development district where the communities use the incremental tax revenue to help make housing affordable and pay for related costs such as public infrastructure improvements, support services for residents, costs of recreational and child care facilities and even potentially establishing permanent housing development revolving loans or investment funds.

“Our research clearly shows that funding and specific program solutions to our wide range of Colorado housing issues will only be created and implemented through a cooperative, bipartisan effort,” said Peetz. “With no template for creating these solutions, we set out to gather and now share our findings with our elected officials, business leaders, local communities and residents who will ultimately have to come together and implement solutions for our state’s long-term success and economic vitality.”

Other elements of the nationwide housing analysis included a look into issues including but not limited to:

  • Diverse and creative housing product types;
  • Housing fees;
  • Tax-based and incentive programs;
  • First-time homebuyers savings accounts;
  • A wide range of innovative funding efforts (including Colorado’s own marijuana tax and similar product taxes);
  • Social impact bonds; and
  • Opportunity Zone programs which emerged from the late 2017 Federal Tax Cut and Jobs Act.

Additional details and recommendations from those components of the analysis will be released later this year.

“This is Colorado’s opportunity to cultivate and execute innovative ideas to increase the supply of housing and diversity of housing options to meet demands from across the entire spectrum of our population,” said CAR CEO Tyrone Adams. “From first-time home buyers to growing families, and senior citizens, it’s time to make a move and work together to plan for our shared future.”


The Colorado Association of REALTORS® conducted a 50-state research study (inclusive of Washington, D.C. and Winnipeg, Canada) between July 2018 and December 2018. The full report examines existing funding measures and focuses on innovative solutions that could drive new public policy either through new revenue or novel approaches from our states and local governments.  To read the full report visit:

The Colorado Association of REALTORS® is the state’s largest real estate trade association representing more than 26,500 members statewide. The association supports private property rights, equal housing opportunities and is the “Voice of Real Estate” in Colorado.  For more information, visit

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