Roya Brown, founder and executive director of You be You Early Learning, delivers food to a student’s family who are sick in an Aurora public housing complex where the mobile preschool is parked. Brown gives out the food, free from nonprofit SECORE Care’s mobile market, once a week. If there’s extra, they give food to others in the neighborhood, too. (Eli Imadali for Colorado Newsline)
Growing concerns among Coloradans about the high cost of living are being driven in large part by worries over rising housing costs, a poll released Monday by the Colorado Health Foundation found.
Nearly a third of Coloradans fear they could lose their homes in the next year because they can’t afford rent or mortgage payments, and 86% of respondents said housing costs are a “serious” problem, according to the results of the foundation’s annual Pulse poll, conducted by a bipartisan team of pollsters last month.
Those fears are especially acute among low-income Coloradans and people of color. More than four in ten Coloradans identifying as Hispanic or Latino told pollsters they worried about losing their homes, compared to 26% of white respondents.
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Coloradans of color also reported higher rates of cutting back on food or health care, or working multiple jobs, to afford housing in the last year, the poll found.
“This research shows us not only what is hitting us hardest but, most importantly, the people being hit the hardest as well,” Karen McNeill-Miller, president of the Colorado Health Foundation, said in a statement.
Worries over housing costs have long been a top issue for people living in Colorado’s fast-growing Front Range communities and in mountain resort towns, but the poll released Monday showed those concerns spiking to new highs. More than 40% of Coloradans told pollsters they are “worse off financially” than they were a year ago, up from 25% in the previous year’s poll.
"These are stark and dramatic increases in Coloradans reporting that they are worried about meeting the basic needs of their family," said Lori Weigel, principal of New Bridge Strategy and the poll’s Republican pollster. "In just one year’s time, these worries have extended from mostly fears of lower-income Coloradans into the concerns of the middle class."
The poll found strong support for a variety of policy measures aimed at bringing down living costs. Six in ten Coloradans said they thought raising taxes on people making over $500,000 a year to fund housing and other social services would be "effective" in helping people make ends meet. By a similar margin, poll respondents endorsed a higher minimum wage and benefit requirements on employers.
The poll also found broad support across party lines for several targeted policies relating to housing security and affordability, including requiring developers to build more affordable units and regulations limiting the pace and amounts of rent increases.
“Among Coloradans likely to vote in November, financial security will be front and center in their minds when they fill out their ballots,” Dave Metz, the poll's Democratic pollster and president of FM3 Research, said in a statement. “When asked to name the issues that will be most important to choosing candidates in November, likely voters point to the cost of living and economy more than any other consideration.”
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