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Nationwide legislators are struggling to build communities that are significant in terms of employment, housing and economic growth. Sometimes, what is good for one aspect of growth could negatively impact another. A proposal in Colorado challenges the availability of entry level housing.

A ballot measure to cap home and apartment construction along Colorado’s Front Range is undergoing a formal state review, setting off alarm bells with real estate agents and homebuilders.

“This will bring our economy to a halt. You don’t bring affordability to a market by reducing supply,” Scott Thorson, the chief operating officer at Oakwood Homes, said at the Colorado Association of Realtors’ Economic Summit on Wednesday in Denver.

Ballot initiative No. 66, which is awaiting a review from the Colorado Supreme Court, would limit permits for homes and apartments to 1 percent of the existing housing stock in 2019 and 2020 in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer and Weld counties.

After two years, the caps would remain in place unless 5 percent of the voters in a jurisdiction put a successful initiative to a vote. Denver, Douglas and Weld counties, which have seen new construction rates above 2 percent, could face some of the most severe reductions under the measure.

Matthew Leprino, a broker-owner of Leprino Homes in Denver, said the measure, if passed, would have devastating consequences in an already constrained market. He urged the crowd of mostly real estate agents to join CAR in opposition.

“Support the fight against it,” he said.

A housing study from Shift Research Labs estimates that metro Denver faces a shortfall this year of about 32,000 homes and apartments due to inadequate construction.

That shortage is driving up homes prices and apartment rents above income gains, fueling inflation and straining finances. Households making under $50,000 a year are collectively spending $2 billion more a year than if supply and demand had stayed in balance, the study estimates.

Builders at Wednesday’s summit said communities need to be looking for ways to make it easier to add lower-cost housing, such as permitting higher density development and reducing impact fees.

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