BY FREDA MIKLIN
On May 17, the City of Centennial held a Housing Needs Workshop at the City’s facility at 7272 S. Eagle Street. Its goal was to begin the process of getting public input for the city’s Housing Study and Policy Development Process that is currently underway. City officials are looking at “housing costs and availability in Centennial and to understand the entire spectrum of housing issues, define various needs for housing and identify priorities to potentially inform policy. This study is a major undertaking that prioritizes community input and collaboration among a wide range of community stakeholders.” City Council Members Don Sheehan and Christine Sweetland attended.
After assessing community housing needs by data analysis and holding open meetings to gather public input, the city will consider policy actions including modifying its land development code to implement changes needed to provide the various types of housing that it determines are needed by its residents.
Residents who attended the workshop were given the opportunity to express their preferences about different types of housing. On the question of multi-unit housing, including townhomes, most people who responded said they would like to see the city explore options for low-rise multiunit housing that is of high quality and near a light rail station.
Planners also asked residents what they thought about accessory dwellings, defined as, “small secondary residential structures located behind the primary house or within an existing house. They are commonly known as “granny flats, mother-in-law apartments, or carriage houses.” Residents responded positively to the idea, suggesting that they be limited to larger lots and also near light rail stations. They also said that these structures should be limited in size, have a separate entrance from the main house, and adequate off-street parking.
This effort will look for gaps in the types of housing available in Centennial, including affordable and attainable housing. An evaluation system will be developed to inform and prioritize how much and where each of these types of housing should be built in the city.
The presenters explained, in the area of affordable housing, “Big A Affordability” refers to, “housing development and/or units that limit the rent or prices to below market rates, and restricts use of those units to households at certain income levels, in return for public and/or private subsidies.” They contrasted that with, “Little A Affordability,” which refers to, “pay no more than 30% of gross income for housing, including utilities.”
They also presented the demographics of the city, as of 2020. Centennial’s population is 108,152, the median age is 41, the average household size is 2.7, the median income is $109,767, and the poverty rate is three percent. The presentation also included the statistic that “the non-white population” is 21%, up from 19% in 2017, without explanation. In terms of housing, 76% of all homes in Centennial are single-family detached and 13% are apartments or condominiums. In-between housing types comprise the remaining 11% (duplexes, townhomes, etc).
The city will provide online input opportunities throughout June and July to help inform deliberations on potential housing strategies. Citizens who want to offer input can email firstname.lastname@example.org. New housing policies and related land development code changes will be drafted and finalized during the remainder of 2022, with final adoption expected early next year. The next housing workshop is planned for early August.