Mayor Hancock and council members Robin Kniech and Albus Brooks, recognizing that skyrocketing rents and home prices threaten to squeeze low and moderate income people out of Denver, are proposing an annual source of funding to build and maintain affordable housing, which they say will also help Denver attract new businesses and keep a strong workforce.
The mayor, Kniech and Brooks, believe Denver needs a reliable source of revenue for affordable housing—just as the city has for other priorities, like parks and libraries. In 2012, voters authorized the city to keep property tax mills that would otherwise have been returned to taxpayers under TABOR guidelines. Those mills have been used to catch city services back up to where they were before the recession. However, Denver did not keep all the mills authorized by the voters, it has been crediting some back to taxpayers. Hancock, Kniech and Brooks are proposing that one of those mills now being credited be used instead to sustainably fund affordable housing in Denver.
The three sponsors of the proposal are asking the community to join in a conversation about asking City Council to vote to dedicate up to one of those mills for affordable housing. Dedicating an existing property tax mill could generate up to $13 million a year, would be stable over time, and would cost the typical homeowner only $25-50 a year (with homes from $250,000 to $500,000).
In addition, the three sponsors believe the city should explore charging a low fee on new development to help mitigate the housing demand those projects stimulate. Called a “housing linkage” or “impact fee,” this approach has been successful in other cities to help balance growth with housing demand. Development cycles go up and down with the economy, so pairing this fee with the more stable property tax source would ensure the city can maintain a steady commitment to affordable housing.
The mayor, Kniech and Brooks say $15 million of dedicated revenue could provide over five times more affordable homes than the city’s existing resources would provide in the next ten years—including housing with support services for the homeless, workforce rental housing and homeownership opportunities. Currently, the mayor’s 2016 budget proposes $8 million for preservation and construction of affordable homes, more than double that of prior years, pending approval by City Council.
Stakeholders, civic leaders and City Council will begin work on the details of this proposal in September, with updates and opportunities for input from the public in the coming months. For more information or to share your feedback, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information provided by Mayor Hancock and Councilmembers Kniech and Brooks.