Occupancy Rule Partly To Blame For Rising Housing Costs In Fort Collins

Jan 31, 2019

It’s expensive to live in Fort Collins, and part of the reason could be a city housing ordinance referred to as “you-plus-two.”

The policy limits home occupancy to no more than three unrelated people per household in Fort Collins.

That means even if a house has five bedrooms, only three people can live in it unless they are a family. A family is defined as any number of persons who are all related by blood, marriage, adoption, guardianship or other duly authorized custodial relationship, and who live together as a single housekeeping unit.

On the books since the 1960s, the current form of you-plus-two took effect in 2005, when there was a 5.4 percent vacancy rate in Fort Collins. Then the recession hit, and new construction slowed. Since then, the population has continued to rise, along with prices for rent and home ownership.

Corona Insights and uA recently presented results of a city-funded study at a city council meeting. Results from the survey of households in Fort Collins for homeowners showed 42 percent of households supported the ordinance, 24 percent opposed it, and 78 percent claimed the ordinance had no significant impact on their neighborhood.

The study presented two conclusions drawn from the data: quality of life in neighborhoods has improved, but the price for rent and home ownership has increased.

“You can work in Fort Collins, you can play in Fort Collins, but you have to live somewhere else,” said Tristan Syron, student body president for Colorado State University. “The amount of people I learned that must wake up in Loveland to drive to work simply because they can’t afford living here. That’s a problem that I think is going to start causing a lot of public pressure.”

At the recent city council meeting, Fort Collins mayor Wade Troxell endorsed a “right-sized approach” where four people could live in a four-bedroom house as long as certain conditions are met. But according to the Coloradoan, other council members pushed back.

Yuval Rosenthal is the director of community affairs for Colorado State University. He said it was disheartening that the City Council didn’t want to revisit the you-plus-two ordinance in the future.

“If the city is reluctant to do this, we now know that this is affecting more than just the CSU student community, and so we’re not reluctant to put this as a ballot measure come November,” Rosenthal said.