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News brief with Boulder Reporting Lab: Gov. Polis' housing bill and proposed homelessness programs

This shows three older homes on a residential street in the Whittier Neighborhood of Boulder, Colorado.
John Herrick
Boulder Reporting Lab
The City of Boulder is still deciding how to lobby on a state bill that would allow multi-unit housing in single-family neighborhoods, such as the houses pictured here in the Whittier neighborhood on April 7, 2023.

This week, we begin checking in with our Boulder Reporting Lab colleagues about the stories they’re following. Senior reporter John Herrick joined us to discuss where Boulder stands on new housing legislation and how the city’s business owners are trying to address homelessness.

Many of Boulder's neighboring cities, such as Longmont, Lafayette and Broomfield oppose Governor Jared Polis' sweeping "More Housing Now" bill. Herrick said Boulder, though, supports the bill with some amendments.

The city is exploring occupancy limits and allowing duplexes and triplexes in some areas where they are currently prohibited. Those are examples of amendments Boulder seeks in order to protect its autonomy with land-use and zoning rules. The Boulder City Council is scheduled to adopt a formal position on April 20.

Herrick says these proposals reflect how the city is changing under a new city council that residents elected in 2021.

"They made addressing the housing crisis one of their top priorities and certainly have been taking up many of these policy changes," he said.

In another housing-related story, some Boulder businesses are poised to throw their support behind homelessness services — including an encampment pilot program that’s the first of its kind in the city.

Business groups this week expressed support for expanding homelessness services across the city, including what they are calling a “safe outdoor space.”

Herrick said it is unclear what that entails.

“But it could include something like a public space set aside where people could use tents or have access to somewhat sturdier tents, or even park their cars there and sleep there—much like we've seen in Denver, for example,” he said.

The business groups are also considering expanding the emergency shelter's operating hours. These moves to provide more alternatives for unhoused people come as officials consider increasing enforcement of the city’s camping ban.

As a reporter and host for KUNC, I follow the local stories of the day while also guiding KUNC listeners through NPR's wider-scope coverage. It's an honor and a privilege to help our audience start their day informed and entertained.
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