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If you know anyone from Texas or Montana, or even Colorado, you’ve likely heard some negative chatter about folks from California encroaching on their space. As quickly as California became over-populated in the last decade, it now has residents exiting in droves, heading for more open spaces.

What they don’t like about California anymore is that rural areas have become far less rural. As California residents seek out more open spaces, states like Montana, Texas and Colorado feel strongly about protecting their rural areas. At the same time, they still need to accommodate a thriving economy and growth in population and jobs.

Montana seems to have found a solution, and we’re all watching with bated breath to see what we can learn. They’re implementing pro-housing policies that also keep the population growth centralized to the cities. They’re addressing a housing crisis while protecting everything that makes Montana, Montana.

With its own vast increase of new residents in recent years, experts say Colorado needs to produce 325,000 units to stabilize housing prices within the state. The current housing shortage is driving up the cost of living especially near urban job centers. Some Montana-style reform could boost construction and help residents from being displaced.

Yet Denver has another reason to centralize the growth and new housing within the cities. If we allow too much urban sprawl, we run the risk of reversing much of the work our state has done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Scarce affordable housing incentivizes urban sprawl, maintains dependence on cars, and puts unnecessary strain on the climate at a time when Colorado, the nation, and the world have rallied behind the cause of slashing emissions,” states an article from RMI. “Colorado has an opportunity to advance meaningful, climate sustaining housing reforms, particularly in areas near transit. This could increase housing while decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.”

While success of some newer policies remains to be seen, one key goal of several states managing a housing crisis is transit-oriented development: prioritizing dwelling units near transit. “These developments allow for more density and usually have fewer parking requirements than other buildings. It’s a novel way to build unobtrusive new housing.”


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