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?
Affordable housing is something all people should have access to, and it’s the number one challenge facing Denver families today. I’m grateful for the critical partnerships in our city including All in Denver. Today, Denver invests more than the entire state of Colorado in affordable housing. Some next steps are to:
Begin land trusts
Increase property acquisition
Leverage city-owned real estate
Allow more accessory dwelling units
Create more height incentives
Develop a resident-preference policy
Develop income non-discrimination policies
Continue to develop and redevelop affordable housing units
Must also include strategies to address other quality of life costs
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’m disappointed that Colorado wasn’t able to pass a transportation funding solution. But Denver remains focused on funding our $2 billion Mobility Action Plan created with residents. Voters in 2017 supported dedicating nearly $500 million for transportation and to advance our plans to create a smart, equitable multimodal transportation network. We’re ready to create a Department of Transportation to streamline dedicated funding. I’ve launched work with regional mayors to tackle our shared congestion woes. I commit this: Denver will take its multimodal destiny into its own hands and deliver for its people a complete and equitable mobility system aimed at moving more people efficiently and safely.
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 have a vision for the future of parks and open space -- a clear roadmap created with the people of Denver in Denveright. It takes a comprehensive approach to addressing housing, transportation, the environment and the need for more parks and green space. With coordinated plans and increasing funding for both parks and housing, we’re able to keep Denver the home we all love. One area we must focus on is requiring park/public space from developers. We have struck a balance in the use of space by remaining coordinated. That is how we have added 647 acres of parks and open space and protected more park land than any administration since 1956.
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, like most major US cities over the last 20+ years, has seen residents returning to live in the urban core. This has placed a pressure on city systems, creating inequalities and driving displacement. As Mayor, I’ve focused on opening access to people’s most basic needs – a home, job, and community with access to healthy food, transportation and quality public education. First, we’re creating economic mobility for all. I just upped the minimum wage at the City and I will work to do so citywide along with increased financial planning and workforce training. Secondly, I must ensure that Denver’s success does not leave our communities of color behind. That is why we’re focused on combating displacement.
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?
If you want to know a city’s values, you must see its budget. Each budget I’ve released has improved, strengthened and added to what we love about Denver. Identifying where to increase investment is easy if you ignore that something must give to deliver a balanced budget. We closed our $100 million budget gap, restored critical city services while maintaining AAA credit ratings and restored reserves. We’ve implemented the Peak Performance initiative that’s saved taxpayers nearly $30 million. Understanding the people’s priorities, this year, I outlined how to better connect people to opportunity, so no one is left behind. We’re significantly increasing funding for affordable housing. homeless services, mobility options and safety.
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 believe our progress as a city can best be measured by the intangibles; what changes lives and what builds up people, like access to opportunity and promoting equity in our communities. Unspent appropriation, as opposed to a “surplus,” can be used for one-time items since it is not guaranteed year-over-year. I’ve invested one-time funds typically for capital projects that can make a life changing difference in our neighborhoods. With surplus monies, I would seek out projects under our Equity Platform that protect our people and neighborhoods and increase access to opportunity for all. This would include working with our teams in affordable housing, homelessness and displacement.