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As gentrification grips Denver, city vows to help through new program

Our Colorado: Mayor Hancock unveiled NEST program
Posted: 6:21 PM, Jul 20, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-21 00:21:08Z

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DENVER -- Denver is one of the fastest growing, and changing cities in our Colorado. But as new skyscrapers and housing pop up, more and more people are feeling pushed out.

"There is a responsibility that comes with change. We should be looking beyond building new things," Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said during his state of the city this past Monday.

Denver's second-term Mayor acknowledged residents from gentrified neighborhoods like Five Points who have been displaced or feel left behind amid the city's rapid growth.

Hancock also announced a new program to tackle gentrification, called NEST, which stands for Neighborhood Equity and Stabilization Team. It will work to reduce economic pressures in gentrified neighborhoods and businesses.

The team will also work to anticipate areas prone to gentrification so crews can deploy resources, like utility and rental assistance, prior to neighborhoods seeing impacts.

"In some neighborhoods, the pace of private investment has outpaced our ability to offset some of those negative impacts," said Denver's chief economist Jeff Romine. "We can do more and that's really what the NEST program is about."

Denver's Five Points is one of the city's gentrified neighborhoods feeling the pains of change.

Frank Stiger has run a barber shop in the community for half a century and seen low-income housing and other small businesses disappear from the area over the years.

"A lot of them can't afford it, they can't afford the change," he said.

"You come up Welton, there's a thousand new apartment buildings up there," explained customer Wayne Roberson. "I'm all for progress, but I hate to see the people who have been here forever pushed out."

"I think it's a little too late," said Mae Stiger, Frank's wife.

The city said it is looking for a new director to help implement the NEST program, and plan to ask city council for more money soon but an exact amount was still being determined.