The lack of affordable housing remains a top concern of Denver residents, and while we commend the city on increasing resources, more needs to be done. If you agree that more resources are needed to support affordable housing, what type of funds and how much are necessary to address this crisis, and how could you achieve this within the next two to three years?
First, organizations like All In Denver get credit for helping us double our affordable housing fund to build more units, faster. That being said, we’re 25,000+ units short of where we need to be. We need more funding of the TRUA program, as well as upstream programs and wrap-around services for mental health while leveraging dollars that come from Caring 4 Denver. This builds the foundation on which substance abuse treatment and job training could be placed; all policies must have a housing lens, and collective impact will be our primary outcome.
Transit and mobility remain a top city priority without a dedicated local source of funding. Would you support creating a dedicated source of annual funding for citywide investments in transit, mobility and Vision Zero safety improvements, and if yes, how much money do you think is needed to properly address this need, how would you allocate these funds and how would you propose to fund this?
I’ve been calling for a sales tax increase to directly fund transit and mobility issues for the last year, and if elected I would champion the cause. My proposal is for a .30 sales tax increase to generate roughly $60 million per year that would allow us to finish our Denver Moves program, prioritizing pedestrians, bikes, and transit in our city. A truly inclusive city is one that invests more in moving people than moving cars, so it would be a big step for our city that still relies too heavily on available [free] street parking and Single Occupancy Vehicle trips.
In the November 2018 election, Denver voters approved a sales tax to increase the yearly investment in parks by more than $40 million. How would you ensure that acquiring land for new parks is done in an equitable way and does not compete with other pressing city priorities, such as acquiring land for affordable housing?
We must do a city-wide assessment, determining a Park Equity Index score for each neighborhood so we can focus on providing access to parks and open space in a fair and inclusive way. Since these funds can only be used to acquire and maintain our open space and parks, I would require our parks department to work closely with CPD and DHS to make sure the felt needs of our neighbors are being met. This means door knocking, surveys, community meetings, and in-depth analysis of each community to determine how, and where, to best add new park/open space.
All In Denver was formed to respond to concerns that racial and social inequity is growing in the city. What do you think are the reasons that we have become a less equitable city and what are your priorities for ensuring Denver becomes more equitable in the future?
Equity means to remedy the defects of society in fairness and justice. That means to build an equitable Denver we would need to remove systemic barriers and implement reparation policies. Denver has worked hard to remove systemic barriers like redlining and predatory lending, but we have never paid back what was lost. It’s time for our city to have an equity lense for all development policies, which means greater participation and ownership of minorities in our growth. I desire to build an entrepreneurship center in the Five Points to empower minority and women-owned businesses.
Running a city the size of Denver is a massive undertaking with a complex web of services, departments, budgets and trade-offs. From your understanding of the city and how it allocates its resources, are there areas of the city that you’d increase funding and if so, what are they? And likewise, are there areas of the city where you’d decrease funding?
This is tough, since 70% of our general fund budget goes to personnel, and I do not advocate for massive layoffs at the city level. I would focus on incremental revenue generation to pay for housing by allowing the true cost of Single Occupancy Vehicle trips to be assessed. This means more expensive parking. I would also implement “pay as you throw” policies, like every municipality around us. This would offset costs and discourage waste. This alone could bring $20 million to the table, and is the right ecological move. For this, fees would be waived for those living below the poverty line.
Let’s assume that the City of Denver ends the 2019 fiscal year with a budget surplus of $20 million. As a Councilmember or Mayor, please list up to three program priorities on how you would spend this money. Please provide specific line items and budget amounts.
Housing Fund & Preservation (TRUA) - $5 million
Transitional Housing for Homelessness (tiny homes, pre-fab, 24-hr shelter) - $7 million
Denver Moves Plan: Transit/Pedestrian & Trails - $8 million