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Housing Boulder- Major Projects


Housing Boulder defines community priorities for creating and preserving diverse, affordable housing choices. The city is developing a housing policy framework and implementation toolkit focused on six goals adopted by City Council in 2014.

Addressing Boulder’s housing affordability challenges takes a creative mix of policies, tools and resources to make progress on multiple fronts. Since the spring of 2013, the city has worked with the community to gain a better understanding of Boulder's current and emerging housing challenges and to identifying specific tools to address those challenges in a manner consistent with shared community values. After gathering community ideas for action to help make housing in Boulder more affordable and inclusive, the project team collected community feedback on priorities for action, including identification of which ideas might work best and where.

On Sept. 1, 2015, City Council considered the Housing Boulder Action Plan for 2015 and 2016 , which focuses on key areas of consensus that can be moved forward in parallel with the housing-related work being undertaken as part of the BVCP Update. This includes the development of a middle-income housing strategy and program; addressing mobile home policy issues identified at the Sept. 17, 2015 council study session, preserving existing affordable housing, and a number of other actions to help achieve the 10 percent goal and to further respond to the city’s housing challenges. ; creating a neighborhood pilot project for cooperative housing and accessory dwelling units; and exploration of governance models for guiding the city’s housing efforts over time. 

In May 2016, the City Council created a middle-income working group to focus on the development of an updated goal, tools and funding opportunities.  This strategy was presented to City Council on October 25 th, 2016. The tools developed in the middle-income strategy have been integrated into the work of the BVCP process for consideration.  The housing topics that will be further explored and analyzed through the BVCP Update process include consideration of the relationship between jobs and housing, the overall housing mix, land use changes for additional affordable housing and community benefit, density considerations and any potential amendments to BVCP housing policies.

Through the efforts of Housing Boulder, some key initiatives that support the six goals of Housing Boulder have been addressed in 2016 and others will be brought forward for implementation in 2017:

1. Middle Income Housing Strategy

In 2016, a middle-income assessment report was completed by BBC Consulting and a MI working group was established by the council to define a new middle income goal, create tools and policies, and to identify potential funding sources to support the strategy.  There were four key tools developed:

  1. Land Use & Policy: Provide policy direction related to middle income housing and recommended land use changes to enable new middle income housing.
  2. Middle Income Community Benefit Zoning: Adopt community benefit policies and outline incentive-based rezoning/community benefit zoning.
  3. Inclusionary Housing: Amend Inclusionary Housing (IH) regulations to include a middle-income tier.
  4. ​ Additional Community Benefit (Annexation): Adopt policies requiring more middle income community benefit


The strategy was presented to Planning Board and City Council in September 2016.  From inputs received from this study session, the strategy is being finalized.

Next Steps:

  • Finalize MI Strategy and make it publicly available.
  • Integrate tools developed in the strategy to support the BVCP process.
  • Update annexation policies and guidelines.
  • Update IH Ordinance

2. Inclusionary Housing Ordinance

One of the key tools identified in the MI strategy is the refinement of the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance.  The update of this ordinance to begin creating middle income housing in 2017 will be a critical first step in the implementation of the strategy.


A staff team of Housing, Planning and CAO has begun to assess the current policy for areas that could be strengthened, with a primary goal of adding on a middle-income component. As well, there is currently a consultant, Keyser Marston Associates, that is conducting a financial analysis of options to increase the IH requirements.

Next Steps:

  • Financial analysis of options
  • Staff working group scenario option development
  • Outreach to community members
  • Council adoption of updated IH ordinance, scheduled to be completed in 3Q 2017.

3. Regional Affordable Housing Strategy

In 2016, the city of Boulder Division of Housing staff initiated a regional conversation galvanizing affordable housing partners in the development of an affordable housing strategy. Partners include the City of Boulder, Boulder County, City of Longmont, Boulder Housing Partners and Longmont Housing Authority.

These conversations have led to the development of priorities and strategies to continue the region’s response to the current affordable housing crisis. The priorities include:

  • Create additional financial resources to facilitate the creation and preservation of affordable housing options. 
  • Secure, dedicate, re-apportion, and regulate existing land and facilities to provide opportunities to develop diverse housing options.
  • Preserve existing affordable housing units, units at-risk of conversion to market-rate units and seek out redevelopment opportunities to protect and expand housing options. 
  • Adopt regulatory practices to facilitate the creation and preservation of affordable housing options.


The partner agencies are working to identify the resources to support the hiring of a consultant to complete the Priorities and Strategy document and facilitate conversation with regional municipalities, affordable housing partners and stakeholders to further develop and implement the strategy.

Next Steps:

  • Identify resource to hire and hire consultant to complete work.
  • Continue to align strategy with the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan update.
  • Meet with regional municipalities, affordable housing partners and stakeholders.
  • Present Strategy to the Consortium of Cities.
  • Ask each community to adopt and implement actions identified in the Strategy.


Council Action: 

  • First Quarter 2017 – briefing to Planning Board and council on current IH ordinance and outcomes of this ordinance over the last ten years.
  • Second Quarter 2017 - study session on options for changes to IH, middle income housing strategy implementation and other housing action items.
  • Third Quarter 2017 - council adoption of updated IH ordinance.


Kurt Firnhaber, Deputy Director of Housing, [email protected] or 303-441-4424.

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