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?
As Mayor, I will expand existing programs to give Denver residents increased access to affordable housing and make linkage fees available. I will ensure that housing that is developed is dispersed throughout our city. I will make sure there is oversight over developers, requiring affordable units in all new developments. My administration will not allow developers to buy their way out of providing affordable units in their projects. It’s time we had a Mayor that pays attention to how and what is being developed in Denver. We are 40,000 units short of demand, and need at least $40-60 million.
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?
Creating a dedicated source of funding for mobility and transit would be a great step in solving our transportation crisis. I will create a Department of Transportation in my administration to address our transportation issues. I will rely on this department to set a budget for its office and for investments in transit, mobility, and safety improvements. We will need at least $10 million per year, and we will determine the revenue source within my cabinet. Creating the department will take a vote of the people, a campaign which I will actively work for.
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 will begin by taking an inventory of existing parks and identifying neighborhoods that need more. Once underserved neighborhoods are addressed, my administration will work with community to adopt a process for prioritizing investment in park land in the city. One of the issues in our government today is that too often, work is siloed in individual departments. I will make sure that all departments are working together to plan and make decisions that move our parks plan forward. We will incorporate parks in affordable housing development.
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?
Gentrification is one large cause of the growing inequities in Denver. Many of the communities displaced by gentrification are historically lower income communities of color, whose neighborhoods and communities have been taken from them for profit. As communities are displaced, we have created areas of high poverty and limited access to critical services. As mayor, I will work to put the brakes on gentrification and direct services and resources where they are needed most. Ensuring that people in Denver can earn a living wage will make the city more equitable.
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?
For too long, many of our lowest-income neighborhoods have been left behind by city funding. True equity is funding based on the needs of the neighborhood, not any one blanket formula across the city. As mayor, I will prioritize funding increases to the neighborhoods that need it most, like GES, Montbello, Harvey Park, and others. I will also increase funding for affordable housing, parks, and services to the homeless. Guidance from Denver residents should drive our budget priorities.
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.
Homelessness - $5 million to expand shelter network and create safe temporary encampments Affordable Housing - $10 million to help expedite development of affordable housing around the city to support the inclusionary housing ordinance, provide additional leverage for funds generated from linkage fees and down payment assistance Moving to a carbon neutral city - $5 million to jump start the transition to a carbon neutral city fleet