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Denver Takes Public Comment On Proposal To Allow More Unrelated Adults Living Under One Roof

DENVER (CBS4)- The City of Denver will host a final open house to discuss changes to the number of "unrelated adults" who can live under one roof- something many in Denver residents are already doing that is against the law.

"We're providing rent at 50% below market rate for professionals who have been priced out of the city and that includes teachers, that includes fire fighters, that includes professional wait staff," said homeowner, Stephen Polk.

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(credit: CBS)

Polk lives with his wife, Sarah Wells-Polk in a large home in Denver's Capitol Hill neighborhood with six unrelated adults. While it's not legal, it's something they've been fighting to change since they bought the home in 2015.

"Our goal from the very beginning was to show that personal wealth and community wealth aren't mutually exclusive. That people can gain equity in housing and that we can also create community assets," said Sarah Wells-Polk.

Sarah, who has been serving on Denver's Group Advisory Living Committee for more than two years, said the ordinance is outdated and in some cases, not enforceable. The update would create more oversight for multiple people under one roof.

"Any number of people are allowed to live together right now, as long as they're blood related, and so the current code really is unenforceable because the city isn't authorized to come and prove blood relationship- but now with this change, we are actually setting a limit to the total number of adults that can live together," said Sarah.

The city has hosted three of four public open houses on the matter which could be decided by council members later this year.

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(credit: CBS)

Jon Yarrington, a third generation Coloradan and retired social worker, said while Denver needs a solution to affordable housing, the plan needs more work.

"I think it can be partially a solution, but my concern is that if you would have a number of unrelated individuals in a home, that a company would own and use it as a potential group home. Then we have less supervision of unrelated individuals which could be a challenge for the neighbors if there was an issue with the home," said Yarrington.

Denver City Councilman Kevin Flynn is one councilman opposed to the changes and says he will be a "no" vote when the time comes.

"I am a 'no' on the package as it stands, for many reasons, and will be looking for changes to it as it moves along," Flynn said via email.

Yarrington, who bought his home from his parents, overall, worries the change could impact property values. He hopes, if passed, it would at least offer protections for current homeowners.

"We're not saying that we don't want anything in our neighborhood but we'd like some type of input and involvement from the city in making sure that that the neighborhoods remain affordable to the residents who are in the neighborhood," he said.

Yarrington hopes to attend the fourth and final public town hall on the issue.

Public Open House #4:
6 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, March 4
Schietler Recreation Center (multipurpose room), 5031 W. 46th Ave., Denver

Sarah and Stephen plan to start a blog about their efforts and their living arrangement. It was just over five months ago they welcomed their first child, Charlie into their cooperative.

The couple admits, while there are potentials for isolated issues, overall, they hope the proposed changes create opportunity for prospective residents.

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