Denver’s cost of living in the last 16 years has exceeded wages by a ratio of 3 to 1. With the unprecedented growth in the Denver Metro area, affordable housing, both homeownership and rental have become a crisis for middle and low-income families. According to the Denver Post, a person needs to make $35.00 an hour to afford medium priced rents. Gentrification has spread across Denver displacing many venerable families and creating crises that impact their whole lives. Growth needs to be inclusive and housing policies should have benefitted residents not just real estate developers. What can Denver do better to address this issue?
As a City, we need to be better prepared to anticipate changes with plans that meet our community needs. The Community Planning and Development Office and Office of Economic Development have the responsibility to provide professional service that informs and educates the city, community, and council. The recent initiatives taken by the City to increase the available funds for affordable housing and community development must be managed with a transparent process that anticipates change and also plans ahead instead of reacting to crisis.
Changes in communities do not happen overnight! It is a process that should and can be better understood and acted upon. Gentrification did not happen overnight! Lack of affordable rental and homeownership did not happen overnight. We should be able to better understand the micro and macro level economics in the real estate market and design our programs and assistance accordingly. SOLVING THESE ISSUES takes a strong partnership between the public, private and non-profit sectors that truly values each other and sees the need to collaborate and work together. We can create and protect accessible housing. We can preserve the historic buildings in our community. We can do this TOGETHER!
Small Business Support
Support for small business development is a weak part of the City’s Economic Development Plan. The Revolving Loan Fund for small businesses has dwindled and the focus has been on subsidizing large capital projects. One of my commitments is to make sure the city strengthens this fund. Small businesses strengthen a neighborhood, create jobs, and they are more prone to hiring local residents. District 3 neighborhoods should have a holistic approach to development where this is attainable housing, small business growth, health care, quality education, careers with living wages cultural activities, and community organizing with local business small involvement.
Climate Change and Public Health are inseparable, when we plan for improved public health we do our part for climate change. As the largest city in the region it is our responsibility to lead on Climate Change. Denver has declining air quality and needs to improve its water quality. My office will take every opportunity to improve them both.
I will advocate for building code standards and industry standards that improve air quality. Additionally, the city needs to provide funding for transportation choices that are just not one person driving in a car. We must put funding behind the transportation plans that the residents have developed.
I will work with all appropriate agencies to ensure that lakes, rivers, and streams in District 3 and Denver, are improved to make them safe for everyone to enjoy.
I will bring the community together to implement our parks plan which will improve existing public green space, while developing new parks.
I will bring public health into the development conversation. The industrial areas near the river are zoned for development. I will ensure that these developments, include a comprehensive health assessment before anything is built. Everyone deserves a healthy neighborhood to grow up in.
District 3 is home to a great diversity of cultures and my platform seeks to empower these diverse communities to develop the way they want. District 3 is blessed to have the Santa Fe Arts District, The Westwood/Morrison Road Mexican Cultural District, and the Little Saigon Business District. My Goal is to strengthen them through my small business platform, and by advocating for improved multi-modal transportation access to them.
Culture reminds us that we are alive; it is a deep root nourished by resilience, hope and determination. We create beauty, resist oppression and tell our stories only because past generations contributed and sacrificed, danced and dreamed. Our ancestors made it possible for us to be here and the history and heritage they passed on tells us who we are.
I seek to elevate and preserve the histories of our neighborhoods and the lived experience of residents. I believe that every individual should have access to cultural and artistic opportunities that speak to issues that are important to them and to meaningful cultural traditions and heritage. Artists, students, families and individual community members play essential roles in nurturing vitality and sparking civic dialogue. The efforts of people on the ground to organize involvement, beautify public space and to bring neighbors together deserve our support and investment.
Imagine 2020 Denver Art Plan laid a great foundation for arts and culture planning in Denver, and I will seek budget funding to update it during my first term.
I will ensure that funding remains for the MyDenver Card, which has provided Denver youth and families access to Denver’s great scientific and cultural facilities.
The Arts and Venues department of the city provides funding for local cultural projects and for local artists, I will make sure that District 3 residents are engaged in these opportunities
I have worked in Civil Rights issues my entire life. Growing up in West Denver, I was part of the Chicano Movement that fought for equity in Denver. As the leader of NEWED CDC, I started the Civil Rights Awards, which creates a space for us to celebrate those in our community that continue to work towards fairness in our society. As the Co-Chair of the Colorado Latino Forum, we have championed criminal justice reform, fair housing, and most recently reached a $600,000 settlement with the Colorado Department of Transportation. The settlement will create a first of its kind study that will take a look at the comprehensive health impacts of multiple sources of pollution in North Denver. I oppose the Urban Camping Ban. We should not criminalize poverty. If elected, I will ensure that Civil Rights concerns are placed front and center in my policy work.
Disability Rights are Civil Rights:
I support full access to all modes of transportation for all Denverites. People with disabilities can live full, enriched lives when they can access the city just as easily as all other citizens. Transportation companies must be held accountable and required to provide equitable access.
Affordable, Accessible Housing
As the Baby Boomers are aging, many of them are experiencing disabilities and I believe that we should make it easier for them to “age in place”, rather than having to be institutionalized. Many people with disabilities are living below the poverty line and we must make it easier for them to live productive lives. Multi-year waiting lists for all subsidized housing and lack of affordable, accessible, integrated housing options force people with disabilities to remain or go into nursing homes and other institutions.
Denver has hundreds of miles of missing sidewalks, and MANY hundreds of miles of damaged or inadequate sidewalks. People with disabilities depend on sidewalks to safely maneuver our great city. Equity demands that we fill in the gaps and repair the broken sidewalk system to give everyone accessibility.
I fully support the Federal passage of the Disability Integration Act (DIA), a bipartisan bill that addresses the need for Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS) to help keep people with disabilities out of nursing facilities and other institutions. Data shows that community-based services can save the government billions of dollars because it is much cheaper to provide care at home that to provide the same care in an institutional setting.