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Veronica Barela

Q1

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? 

 

This is an issue that has Federal, Regional, and Local solutions. Federally, we must advocate for increase HUD funding to states. Regionally, we need be searching for shared revenue opportunities to solve the regional housing crisis. We clearly have additional local bonding capacity that could be sent to the voters. We also need to repeal rent control to allow strong inclusionary housing ordinances on rental properties. Once new revenue is generated the bulk of the money should be sent to Non-Profit Housing Developers because their goal and mission is to create attainable and affordable housing.

 

Q2

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?

At our current rate of funding it will take decades to make the improvements that we need to improve safety, provide transportation choices, and improve our air quality. According to the Denver Streets Partnership, $40 million annually is needed to make this a reality. The high injury network would be my first priority. I would entertain sending a dedicated local source of funding to the voters.

 

Q3

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? 

 

Parks and Recreation just announced a series of public meetings to discuss the plans for the future of capital spending on the new 2A money. I intend to be very involved in this discourse and will organize District 3 residents to participate. It is crucial that areas of town that do not have parks within in a 10 minutes walk of residents, or haven’t had a new park in 10 years or more be prioritized. Open space and housing are connected, to me they need not compete.

 

Q4 

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?

 

Stagnation of wages, job skill development, the lack of small business support services, the decline in homeownership by people of color, and gentrification are all factors that are contributing to the the growing disparities in Denver. My priorities are to support non-profits and residents in economic and housing justice fights in the areas of town that are most vulnerable to displacement.

 

Q5

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?

 

Housing, Small Business Support, and Transportation are all major issues that must have increases in funding immediately I believe there are many city agencies that should be audited before decisions are made to cut their budgets. I would work with the City Auditor to identify the priority of departments.​

 

Q6

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 is a must. I would infuse $15 million into the Affordable Housing Fund. The Other $5 million into the Revolving Loan Fund for Small Businesses in the Office Of Economic Development in target areas, such as the areas of the inner city that are most vulnerable to displacement.

Jamie Torres

Q1

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? 

 

We have begun some smart funding allocation with the recent bond issued along with Denver Housing Authority that will put 50 million into their pipeline. This will add several hundred affordable units that will be added to their sites at Sun Valley and Westridge. I would also encourage us to look aggressively at our Social Impact Bond program, and assess it’s pilot stage and if we can do more with this to house our most critical up front in order to save on the back end.

Q2

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 would be supportive of a dedicated local source of funding and especially in the areas you mentioned. Seattle recently passed a regional plan to the tune of 54 billion dollars. We need to continue to aim for the same. Denver cannot do this alone, we need partnerships and support from the entire metro region. These investments are incredibly important to District 3 because we have some of the most dangerous intersections, thoroughfares, and roadways in the City of Denver.

Q3

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? 

 

Ensuring equity in this process will require intensive community involvement and commitment to the mapping we’ve already done of inequity throughout the City. What we are likely to find is that communities in need of affordable housing and vulnerable to displacement are the same communities with park inequities. District 3 is second to last in the City when it comes to parkland and we are among the most likely to see residents displaced. This is an assessment Parks & Rec, CPD, and OED and community must do together.

 

Q4 

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?

 

Denver’s history is steeped in the inequitable distribution of resources and wealth from covenants and red lining to the outright inability to access capital by black and brown residents. Unfortunately, our systems are not yet turned around to fully face inequity and reverse it. The City is working to address that with the new equity platform which includes the new Race & Social Justice Initiative. My 18 years in the Agency for Human Rights & Community Partnerships gave me a front seat to how this can be done, community by community and conversation by conversation and holding one another accountable to change.

 

Q5

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?

 

 

I’ve been honored to work in the Agency for Human Rights & Community Partnerships for 18 years. It is with time and in-depth interactions that I understand the inner workings of the City and yet there is always something new to learn. I would take a look at unused budget and what cause the underspend to then determine the following year’s allocation and potential barriers to full spend. I would increase funding and create alignment to department outreach and community engagement staff and ensure they have language access plans for non-english resident outreach.

 

 

Q6

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.

I would commit these funds first to Denver’s most vulnerable communities. 1 million to the Immigrant Legal Services Fund. 1 million to the Eviction Legal Defense Fund. 4 million to support homeless service nonprofits. Double the investment in Temporary Rental and Utlitiy Program (TRUA) to 3 million. Investment in both the Office of Financial Empowerment to begin more deliberate anti-poverty tactics and the Race & Social Jusitice Intiative to get all city employees trained and a toolkit developed to assess equity in every investment project we undertake. The remaining 10 million I would create a participatory budget process and let residents determine where they want their dollars placed.