City Establishes First Affordable Housing Fund
Dear Downtown Denver Partnership Members,
On September 19, 2016 the Denver City Council approved the City’s first dedicated affordable housing fund on a 9 to 4 vote. This fund, that will generate an estimated $150 million to build and preserve 6,000 housing units in 10 years, is made up of two direct funding sources: a ½ mill property tax increase and a development impact fee.* We want to thank and congratulate Mayor Hancock and Councilmembers Albus Brooks and Robin Kniech on their laudable efforts to address a very significant challenge in our community.
The Downtown Denver Partnership, through the leadership of our DDP Housing Task Force co-chaired by Trinidad Rodriguez with D.A. Davidson and Amy Hansen with Polsinelli, and many of our members were a part of the process to evaluate and inform the City’s proposed affordable housing fund and spending plans.
The Partnership has been a vocal supporter of establishing a dedicated affordable housing fund. This fund will help us meet the goal set forth in the Downtown Area Plan that calls for 18,000 additional housing units by the year 2027. The Plan also calls for a diverse housing mix, both in product type and price, in order to build a sustainable Center City.
Throughout this process, the Partnership also voiced our opposition to one of the funding mechanisms: the development impact fee. We believe that the impact fees will adversely impact affordability and a number of amenities we are pursuing in Downtown. More importantly, we believe the impact fee is not the best tool to achieve our affordable housing goals.
For over a year, we have met with members of the Mayor’s Office and City Council to share our concerns and propose alternative sources and funding mechanisms to allow for more equitable contributions to this effort, and to make a greater impact sooner. We also advocated for a number of changes to the proposal, including a “timeout” period whereby future lawmakers cannot raise the development impact fees, a sunset for the fee, as well as more detail and transparency on where and how the funds will be spent, many of which made it into the final bill.
We cannot thank our DDP Housing Task Force, Trinidad Rodriguez, Amy Hansen and other member leadership who participated in this process enough. As Denver City Councilman Chris Herndon said last night, the dialogue concerning different ways to structure and fund this program only helped strengthen the final outcome.
We look forward to working with our members, leadership, the Mayor’s Office and City Council on the implementation of the plan in the coming months and years. Thank you again to those who contributed their time and expertise to this effort.
Chairman, Downtown Denver Partnership
President & CEO, Downtown Denver Partnership
*Note, the tax increase is not subject to a vote of the people because of the voter approved Measure 2A/deBrucing in 2012