HOUSE HUNTING

Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne speaks about affordable housing during a town hall meeting Sunday at the University Center at Colorado Mesa University. She explained a four-pronged approach to the statewide problem and mentioned that lands near the Grand Junction Regional Center might fit the bill for housing development.

Colorado needs a Cabinet-level position responsible for housing, Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne said Sunday at Colorado Mesa University.

"There is no one nipping away at our ears about housing," Lynne said as she completed the third of a four-day tour around the state discussing housing and health care issues.

Lynne, who also serves as the state's chief operating officer and is seeking the Democratic nomination to replace term-limited Gov. John Hickenlooper, is to discuss both topics today in Glenwood Springs before winding up her tour in Steamboat Springs this afternoon.

A four-pronged approach to housing is taking shape for her as she tours the state, Lynne said.

In addition to a top-level executive, the state should be looking at low-income housing credits, working to make excess state land available for housing projects and combining the twin goals of improved housing and more efficient transportation, Lynne said.

Lands near the Grand Junction Regional Center, which the state is moving to close down, might fit the bill for housing development, Lynne said.

"It's not just about the cost of construction," she said of the cost of housing, "it's about the cost of land."

Lynne is drafting a paper based on her discussions around the state that she will use during her gubernatorial campaign.

Lessening traffic on the state's roads and highways by clustering housing around campuses combining companies and more efficient transportation alternatives is a possibility she hopes to explore, Lynne said.

Grand Junction poses a different challenge in that it has yet to recover from massive job losses after 2008, and many residents who held on through the Great Recession have seen little improvement, Jody Kole, chief executive officer of the Grand Junction Housing Authority, told Lynne.

The waiting list for affordable housing held steady in recent years around 2,000, but it's now climbing to 3,000, Kole said.

Many of those now seeking affordable housing are at the end of their rope, Kole said.

Housing issues have resonated around the state, not just in the Denver metro area, where housing supplies are shrinking and costs are rising, Lynne said.

Housing "is not a Front Range problem only," Lynn said.

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