For many soon-to-be former Aurorans, the rent is too damn high

Aurora’s housing market has consistently matched the mercury this summer, with surging rent prices and plummeting vacancy rates in many pockets of the city, according to new industry reports and city officials.

AURORA | Aurora’s housing market has consistently matched the mercury this summer, with surging rent prices and plummeting vacancy rates in many pockets of the city, according to new industry reports and city officials.

“It’s brutal,” Aaron Gagné, manager of the city’s community development division, said of the Aurora market. “We’re seeing a market swing that took us from being concerned about vacant properties in the city to a condition of about zero-percent vacancy, and that happened just within a couple of years.”

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On July 24, 2015 the Mamero's had to move out of their house on Worchester and 13th Avenue in Aurora because the rising cost for rental housing in the City. (Photo by Trevor L Davis/Aurora Sentinel)

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Brothers, Chris and Angelo Mamero keep their one week old niece busy while moving out of their house on Worchester and 13th Avenue in Aurora on July 24, 2015. They left the city due to the rising cost of rentals. (Photo by Trevor L Davis/Aurora Sentinel)

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Bethany Mamaro loads a U-Haul truck on July 24, 2015 while moving out of her former house at Worchester and 13th Avenue in Aurora. She's and her family moved out of the city because of the rising cost of rentals. (Photo by Trevor L Davis/Aurora Sentinel)

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Kevin Todey helps dismantle a lift that helped Chis Mamaro get around in his bedroom on Worchester and 13th Avenue in Aurora on July 24, 2015.

The vacancy rate for north Aurora apartments that fall within Adams County sat at an eye-popping zero percent in the first quarter of the year, according to data collected by the Apartment Association of Metro Denver. About 5 percent of Arapahoe County apartments in north Aurora were vacant during the same time, according to the study. Data for the second quarter of the year have not yet been released.

That shortage of available housing has caused rent prices to mushroom over the past year. The average monthly cost of renting an apartment in Aurora shot up 14.5 percent between June 2014 and June 2015, according to a study released July 22 by Dallas-based market research firm Axiometrics. North Aurora — defined roughly as East 42nd Avenue to the north, Picadilly Road to the east, East Sixth Avenue and East Alameda Avenue to the south, and Yosemite Street to the west — led all submarkets analyzed in the study with an annual rental growth rate of 17.8 percent. The firm calculated the average north Aurora rent to be $1,144.

“Landlords in Aurora’s submarkets have an almost perfect situation to raise rents,” said Stephanie McCleskey, vice president of research at Axiometrics. “Occupancy is above 96 percent in three of the four (Aurora) submarkets, and there is little new supply being delivered in Aurora, unlike the Denver market as a whole.”

The study found that just under 1,800 new units will have come online in Aurora between January 2014 and the year’s end, with about two-thirds of those dwellings falling near the city’s southern borders in the vicinity of Cherry Creek State Park. Over the same time frame, Axiometrics estimated Downtown Denver will have added nearly 4,000 units.

Aurora’s overall population has grown by 118 percent since 1980, according to city documents from June.

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Brothers, Chris and Angelo Mamero keep their one week old niece busy while moving out of their house on Worchester and 13th Avenue in Aurora on July 24, 2015. They left the city due to the rising cost of rentals. (Photo by Trevor L Davis/Aurora Sentinel)

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Gabriel Mamaro moving out of the house he lived in with his brothers and sisters on Worchester and 13th Avenue in Aurora on July 24, 2015. (Photo by Trevor L Davis/Aurora Sentinel)

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Gabriel Mamaro looks out onto his old neighborhood while taking a break from moving out of the house he lived in with his brothers and sisters on Worchester and 13th Avenue in Aurora on July 24, 2015. (Photo by Trevor L Davis/Aurora Sentinel)

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Angelo Mamaro looks out the front door of the house he lived in with his brothers and sisters on Worchester and 13th Avenue in Aurora on July 24, 2015. They're moving to Thornton where rent is cheaper. (Photo by Trevor L Davis/Aurora Sentinel)

Despite attempts by developers to keep up with ballooning population and demand, many Aurorans reliant on cheaper-than-Denver rents and affordable housing programs are being priced out — fast.

Former Aurora resident Chris Marmaro moved out of his home on 13th Avenue and Worchester Street this week after seeing rent steadily swell over the past year. Now in Thronton, Mamaro lived in the north Aurora home with several of his siblings and their family members. Space was so tight, his brother, Gabriel, was living in the garage.

“We just couldn’t afford it any more,” Marmaro said.

“Landlords in Aurora’s submarkets have an almost perfect situation to raise rents,” said Stephanie McCleskey, vice president of research at Axiometrics. “Occupancy is above 96 percent in three of the four (Aurora) submarkets, and there is little new supply being delivered in Aurora, unlike the Denver market as a whole.”

City officials are clawing to maintain options for the thousands of Aurora residents such as Marmaro struggling to keep up with inflating rents, according to Gagné. He said that finding funding mechanisms and bringing affordable developments online has proven to be both complex and time-consuming.

“We are actively and aggressively partnering with affordable housing developers across the entire city, investing in those projects where it’s appropriate, and there are funds available, but that takes time,” Gagné said.

He pointed to several projects — one adjacent to Mt. Nebo Memorial Park off Peoria Street and East Colfax, another at East 17th Avenue and Paris Street, and one more at East 30th Avenue and Peoria — that will bring close to a total of 400 affordable units to the city in the coming years. He said that the city will rely largely on private activity bonds to finance at least the development at 30th and Peoria, currently dubbed Peoria Crossing. The tax-exempt federal bonds are annually allocated to states and can be used for a range of redevelopment and housing purposes.

Gagné said that although the city doesn’t offer any official housing vouchers, officials are also investigating several non-developmental options, such as live-where-you-work incentives and set aside percentages, to bolster affordable housing, particularly in north Aurora. That area of the city is also targeted in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s current five-year plan.

The city does provide limited Section 8 Housing Vouchers to residents — about 49 per 10,000 residents, according to city documents — but the vouchers are administered by the Aurora Housing Authority, which is a quasi-municipal entity that is not funded nor governed by the city.

“Where units exist we tend to enjoy a fairly good proportion of affordability, and some would argue we have more than our fair share of affordable housing,” Gagné said. “But we still have to take care of our residents and make sure they have clean, safe and secure housing for their families. Colorado is a place people want to be, a place where business and industry is growing, and a place people are migrating to. Absent of any large, national economic swings, I expect these (market conditions) to continue.”

  • gofastgo

    Well, please allow Aurora not to be come the ‘low income’ magnet, welcome to Thornton, Commerce City next up?

  • Joe Hardhat

    I have a few market rate rentals in the Expo neighborhood and have been forced to compete with nearly free Section 8 housing for the welfare poor, and non-Section 8 government subsidized rentals for the working poor. The subsidized apartments go for about 50 to 75% of market value when compared with nearly identical units nearby. Most of the apartments within a mile of my rentals are Section 8 or subsidized. Finally I’ve been able to raise my rents, which is a relief because my rentals provide me with retirement income. Some of my renters make just a little over the income level needed to qualify for nearby subsidized rentals.

  • indiana

    WHATEVER YOU DO…..just keep having more and more kids…….you fools can never ever see the big picture.