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City council approves Denver's first affordable housing fund

$150 million will go toward housing over 10 years
Posted: 10:44 PM, Sep 19, 2016
Updated: 2016-09-20 04:58:37Z

DENVER – The city’s first dedicated fund for affordable housing will get $150 million over the next 10 years after the city council voted to approve money for the fund Monday.

The council voted 9-4 to establish the fund, which the city says would create up to 6,000 new low and middle-income housing units.

Proponents of the fund say more affordable housing is necessary in Denver, where housing prices have steadily ballooned in recent years. Council members described the current situation as a crisis.

The fund would be created by a half-mill property tax and fee on new developments and would start collecting money Jan. 1. The council approved the funding, which had been sought by Mayor Michael Hancock.

The fee on new development will range from $0.40 to $1.70 depending on the type of project and would be collected by the fund once building permits are approved.

There were four amendments added to the bill including a measures that would create a comprehensive plan that will be presented to council. An alternative bill ultimately did not pass.

Still, some people in the city’s poorest neighborhoods don’t believe the money will help them.

“Families don’t have anywhere to go and so people are searching all over the city without success,” said Project Voyce spokesperson Candi CDeBaca. “It’s not enough. We need 80,000 units right now. That’s what the demand is.”

But the council approved the plan, calling it a “step in the right direction.” The plan will be reevaluated through its lifetime and will be analyzed again after the first 10-year period.

Mayor Hancock issued a statement Monday night following the vote:

“Tonight, our city took a significant step forward in keeping Denver accessible to our workers and families. I want to thank City Council for their support in creating Denver’s first, dedicated fund for affordable housing, which embeds the value of a city for everyone into our foundation.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the work we’ve accomplished with Council members Kniech and Brooks and all of our partners to keep our city uniquely Denver. From here our work continues undaunted to spur the creation of diverse housing options throughout the city. Together, we will remain relentless in our pursuit to ensure that our people are able to build equity and wealth through homeownership.”

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