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Colorado Initiative 103 (2008)

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The Housing Investment Fund Initiative or Initiative 103 would have established a four-cent real estate transfer tax, with revenue dedicated to affordable housing projects for low-income households.

This measure was a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment that would have added a new section to the state constitution.

The official ballot title read:

State taxes shall be increased $38.0 million annually by an amendment to the Colorado Constitution concerning the creation of a real estate transfer tax to fund affordable housing programs, and, in connection therewith, commencing July 1, 2009, imposing the transfer tax at the rate of four cents for each $100 paid in certain real property transactions; creating a Colorado Housing Investment Fund to which transfer tax revenues are credited; requiring moneys in the fund to be used for housing programs related to construction, real property acquisition, predevelopment, ordinance compliance costs, building rehabilitation, assistance with purchase costs, energy efficiency improvements, accessibility modifications and construction, and foreclosure and homelessness prevention; and exempting revenues from the transfer tax from state and local government revenue and spending limits.

Details of the amendment

According to the Review and Comment Hearing report, the major purposes of the proposed amendment were:[1]

  • To create the Colorado housing investment fund in the state treasury, to be administered by the division of housing in the department of local affairs;
  • To specify the sources of moneys in the Fund, permitted uses for the moneys, the method for allocating the moneys, and eligible recipients of the moneys;
  • To impose a real estate transfer tax at the rate of four cents for each one hundred dollars, or major fraction thereof, of consideration paid for the real property, on certain real estate transactions to generate revenue for the Fund;
  • To clarify that any proceeds collected from the real estate transfer tax and spent pursuant to the article shall be a voter-approved revenue change and shall not be constrained by any limitation contained in section 20 of article X of the state constitution ("TABOR") or any other limit on revenue or spending under state law;
  • To require the general assembly to enact laws to further the purpose of the article.


The measure was submitted by the Colorado Housing Investment Fund Coalition. Housing Works for Colorado, a citizens group, was also in the forefront supporting the initiative.

"Colorado will continue to have the lowest fee or tax of any state which assesses one on the value of real estate transactions," according to the group's web site.

"Colorado lags behind other states in housing funding while having one of the best records for efficiently and effectively managing those limited funds. Housing is a good investment for Colorado. Now is the time to tell the story of how the voters of Colorado can make this investment and see results in community sustainability, family stability, economic development, and individual lives improved through the simple power of having a safe, decent and affordable place to call home."[2]


The Colorado Association of Realtors was opposed to the idea, according to CAR President Greg Zadel. He said that CAR believes another tax on housing is a barrier to home ownership.[3]

To support safe, decent, and affordable housing, Zadel said that CAR established its Housing and Opportunity Foundation in 1990. A percentage of transactions is put toward helping on local projects. Donations to the foundation have totaled more than $5.8 million, he said. In addition, more than $700 million ($439.8 million from government and nonprofit sources, and $62.38 million from local housing authorities) is already spent annually to support affordable housing in Colorado, Zadel said.[3]

Zadel added that with the disproportionately high cost of real estate in some places, a statewide tax might not distribute the funds fairly.[3]


Supporters circulated petitions for the measure but ceased efforts in early July 2008 when success appeared outside their grasp. "We have reached the conclusion that the days are too few and our resources are too limited to overcome the short time frame for delivering over 76,000 valid signatures by the Aug. 4 deadline," Britta Fisher, chair of the Colorado Housing Investment Fund Coalition, said in a statement.

Fisher said her organization plans to regroup and "set a new direction" for all the groups that supported Initiative 103.[4]

See also

External links