Study finds more Colorado families live together than ever before

Colorado Futures Center and CSU System logos

The Colorado Futures Center, a think tank of the Colorado State University System, this week released an updated study that found that the number of homes where more than one family resides – also known as “doubling up” – is on the rise in Colorado. The 2019 data-set found that more than 3/10 homes statewide are doubled up, compared to 1/5 homes in a 2017 study.

“We’re seeing more and more families doubling up due to economic circumstances,” said Phyllis Resnick, executive director of the Colorado Futures Center. “We saw these numbers increase in our 2019 dataset, even before the effects of COVID and we imagine that the current reality, due to COVID, is an even greater increase. The current data strongly suggest that doubling up is serving as a hidden form of affordable housing.”

Major findings in the 2019 study include:

  • Doubling-up is increasing in Colorado. According to the latest data available (2019), 680,000 households, three out of every ten statewide, are doubled up. This is an increase from one in five households doubled-up in 2006.
  • While the size of non-doubled up households has been declining statewide, doubled-up households are increasing in size. The average household size of doubled-up households increased from 3.2 in 2006 to 3.83 in 2019.
  • One in five children under the age of six and one in four under the age of 19 lives in a doubled-up household.
  • In 2019, there are fewer children under the age of six living in non-doubled up households than there were in 2006. In doubled-up households, there are 20 percent more children than there were in 2006. All the growth in Colorado’s youngest is occurring in doubled-up households.
  • Doubled-up households can be simulated into the core and spinoff households.  Household income data demonstrate that the majority of the income is contributed by the core household. This suggests that doubling-up is a hidden form of affordable housing.  However, an additional 26,800 Colorado households would be cost-burdened (spending more than 30% of income on housing) without the contribution from doubling-up.
  • Outside of the large university communities in Boulder and Fort Collins (in which students are doubling-up), the highest populations of doubled-up households are in the Denver Metro region, North Pueblo County and Grand Junction.

The research study was partially supported by CHFA and Housing Colorado, as an update to a 2017 study and expands the research that explores the economic circumstances of doubled-up households. The 2019 research brief can be found here.

About the Colorado Futures Center

The Colorado Futures Center is a 501c3 organization dedicated to informing about economic, fiscal and public policy issues impacting community economic health and quality of life. CFC is affiliated with the Colorado State University System.