‘We urge you to support measure 2B’

Guest column by Councilwoman Robin Kniech and Mayor Michael Hancock
Posted 10/1/20

Over the last several years, we have worked together to identify solutions to create a more equitable city where everyone has a place. We’ve made substantial investments in affordable housing for …

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‘We urge you to support measure 2B’

Posted

Over the last several years, we have worked together to identify solutions to create a more equitable city where everyone has a place. We’ve made substantial investments in affordable housing for people of all incomes, raised wages, and launched innovative programs to support people experiencing or exiting homelessness.

But our community is acutely aware that more work remains to help our unhoused neighbors get back on their feet. Community non-profit homeless service providers and city agencies have stepped up like never before to leverage emergency dollars to save lives during this pandemic. But the need continues to grow and far outpace our capacity.

Following the defeat of Initiative 300 in 2019, we asked one another: how will we do better for our city and our residents who are experiencing homelessness?

Service providers, community leaders, city agencies and elected officials have come together to answer with a bold measure to implement the most effective and intentional mechanisms to resolve homelessness through a sustainable funding source, which will appear on your November 2020 ballot as 2B.

This ballot question will fund three primary strategies to reduce homelessness in Denver, ease the challenges facing our neighborhoods and transform the lives of children, families and individuals who are facing hard times. Through just 2.5 cents on a $10 purchase, we can make an immeasurable impact on the lives of Denverites who need a hand up.

First, we will expand shelter access and the number of beds and improve access for underserved populations. While the challenge of homelessness has faced our city for years, the current pandemic has placed a greater strain on our shelter capacity. Social distancing required more space between beds and that eliminated 1,200 beds at existing shelters in Denver.

Second, we will create more housing for people who are experiencing homelessness. Over the next 10 years, we plan to build 1,800 new supportive housing apartments where residents pay rents they can afford and can access wrap-around services to help prevent them from facing homelessness again. This model has proven more than 80% effective at keeping people housed and includes employment counseling, medical care, substance misuse treatment and more.

Finally, we will focus additional services to reach people who are unsheltered, whose numbers have recently doubled. We must do more - and that includes more intentional outreach and services and expanding the use of transitional steps like tiny homes.

Measure 2B will allow the city to make great gains to help people exit homelessness, but it will take time and the support of our community to build the trust, housing and facilities needed to implement these plans. This is the next, necessary step in Denver’s long-term strategy to reduce homelessness and a critical investment that will change thousands of lives, while we continue to collaborate and advocate for broader regional, state and federal solutions to the root causes of homelessness. This includes mitigating the economic fallout from the pandemic, which has left tens of thousands of Denver residents at risk of losing their jobs and homes.

We have never stopped working toward better ways to address the conditions of those experiencing homelessness. We need to continue our efforts and we urge you to support measure 2B on your ballot this fall and to help make a difference for Denver.

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