Group Living Ordinance Changes Possible

Information from District 6 Newsletter (Paul Kashmann – Denver City Councilman):

A project team developing updates to Denver’s zoning regulations for residential uses will hold a series of meetings this month to present proposed changes and receive public input. These proposed changes would address all types of residential uses, including conventional household living, residential care and group homes.

One key proposal is to update how the city defines a household. “Household” refers to the most common type of residential use, where a group of individuals lives together as a single housekeeping unit in a non-profit/non-commercial context with no “operator” or “manager.” Single-unit households are currently allowed to have up to two unrelated or partnered adults and an unlimited number of related individuals of any age. There isn’t a specific use type where you can have up to three unrelated adults in a home, however a homeowner can apply for a permit for Rooming and Boarding as a Home Occupation, which would permit them to take on an additional boarder or unrelated adult as a roommate. The proposal being considered would put a limit on the total number of  adults permitted to share a home, but would not require them to be related.

The following is a summary of the current requirement and what is proposed:

Current Zoning Code definition:

  • Single-Unit use (typical detached house): 2 partners or unrelated

adults, unlimited family members of any age

  • Two or multi-unit use (duplex, apartment, etc.): 4 unrelated adults, unlimited family members of any age.

 Proposed Zoning Code update:

  • Treat single-unit dwellings (houses) and multi-unit dwellings (duplexes, apartments, etc.) the same
  • Allow any dwelling unit to be occupied by up to 8 unrelated adults living as a housekeeping unit
  • Allow any number of minor (under 18) relatives (including adoption, marriage, guardianship, etc.)
  • Where a structure exceeds 1600 square feet in gross finished floor area, an additional 1 adult would be permitted for every 200 additional square feet.

These changes are part of a package of updates aimed at increasing equity, affordability and flexibility for people seeking housing of all types in Denver. The current restrictions on household makeup doesn’t reflect how people live today and severely limits options for people to save on housing costs by having multiple roommates, combining households or living in multi-generational households. It is more restrictive than many of Denver’s peer cities in the Front Range and around the country.

Additionally, the state of Colorado’s Group Home statute already requires Denver to treat a group of up to 8 people that fall within one of that statute’s protected classes (people over a certain age, people with mental or physical disabilities, etc.) as a household for the purposes of zoning.

There is not a specific legal definition of “group home” but the term generally refers to housing occupied by groups of unrelated individuals with “disabilities”, a federally protected class of people. Persons with “disabilities” include anyone with a condition that substantially limits major life activities including blindness, hearing and mobility impairment, developmentally disabled, elderly, HIV infection, alcoholism, drug addiction, chronic fatigue, learning disability, head injury, and mental illness. Homes for up to 8 individuals who do not need day-to-day care are currently permitted in residential zone districts in compliance with the State Group Home Statute, as are small residential care facilities for 8 or fewer people who receive care or supervision. The proposed changes to the definition of “household” would allow similar accommodation for people who choose to live as a housekeeping unit, by renting or purchasing a home together, etc. Additional proposed changes to the code will impact regulations for shelters, community corrections and residential care facilities, and expand areas where those types of services can be provided.

Public Open House #1
6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, February 11
Bruce Randolph School, 3955 Steele St.

Public Open House #2
9 to 11 a.m., Saturday, February 22
Goldrick Elementary School, 1050 S. Zuni St.

Public Open House #3
6 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, February 26
Hebrew Educational Alliance, 3600 S. Ivanhoe St.

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

For more information, visit the Denver Community Planning & Development page