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?
Like Portland‘s voter-approved $258 million housing bond, we need a dedicated funding stream for new affordable units, preservation & a higher per-unit subsidy. I will create a cabinet-level Housing Department administered by seasoned experts; invest in a fully supported & transparent Comprehensive Fund to coordinate the deployment of available resources & partnerships with other fund & tax credit providers; encourage more “missing middle” development; & use participant-public-private partnership initiatives. I will negotiate with developers for affordable requirements at the front end, with continued compliance monitoring.
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?
Yes, Denver needs a sustainable transportation system that moves people, not just cars. It’s time to prioritize transit, walking, biking. We need $5B for transit and nearly $2B for walking and biking. Sales taxes, bond funds, & improvement districts are appropriate funding mechanisms for multimodal improvements that benefit everyone that we can use to leverage foundation, state, & federal funds. We must rethink road funding & augment the declining gas tax with a mileage-based road user fee. Such a tool will allow more accurate data collection, & pricing sensitive to congestion, premium infrastructure, & high-pollution days.
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?
Prioritize underserved areas & redevelopment districts. We need to “create” land by capping facilities like railroads, transforming dead-end streets to pedestrian courts, swapping parking for parks, & making green roofs publicly accessible. For example, a railyard bifurcates Globeville & Sunnyside at the Fox St Station. Capping it with a park could create open space (think NYC’s High Line) for the areas on either side where high-intensity development, including affordable housing, is planned. Infrastructure master plans, general improvement districts, and incentive overlays that consider open space should be prepared before new entitlements are conveyed in redevelopment areas.
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?
As a Black Latina growing up in public housing & a former single parent who worked low-wage jobs, I faced barriers to economic mobility. Denver is increasingly a city for the rich, while exploiting the labor of the poor, which cuts across racial lines. Downtown has been the focus of development & economic resources to the detriment of economically disadvantaged residents. The concentration of wealth in the city’s center is not simply the result of “market forces,” but is shaped by governmental policies that perpetuate wealth & racial inequality. I’d implement anti-displacement/poverty policies to mitigate the impacts of gentrification, while supporting increases of the livable wage beyond $15/hr.
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?
Through anti-displacement/poverty policies I would focus on economically deprived areas in the beginning stages of gentrification, such as Westwood, Globeville, Elyria, Swansea, Montbello & Barnum. I would shift resources from downtown—the focus of investments where residents have an average household income of $120K, nearly double the median income of Denver residents—to historically disadvantaged neighborhoods. I would use data from health, environmental & economic impact assessments in collaboration with residents to co-develop solutions tailored to their neighborhoods & reduce the harm of gentrification.
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.
Creation of a cabinet-level Housing Department administered by seasoned experts: $5 million
A fully supported, accountable, & transparent Comprehensive Fund to fully finance initiatives across the spectrum of needs: $13 million Implementation of a participant-public-private partnership, or P4 initiative which requires the involvement of community members (participants), the government (public), & developers (private) in all decision-making: $2 million