The Denver City Council approved funds on Monday for an affordable housing plan which will attempt to help citizens squeezed by rising property rates in the city.
The council plans to raise $150 million over the next decade by raising property taxes. Proponents state that the average household will only need to contribute $12 per year to help thousands of Denver residents maintain moderate apartment and housing ratings. The plan will also build additional, affordable housing.
Denver is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States as residents are attracted by its environment and good economic development. However, this boom in population growth has created a demand for housing that construction has not been able to keep up with. The result is rising property prices which has squeezed lower to middle-income citizens.
Denver council officials have all agreed that something has to be done to ensure affordable and efficient housing, but there has been plenty of debate over the funding. An alternative plan proposed by city council members Chris Herndon, Debbie Ortega, and Rafael Espinoza would have seen the housing plan funded with $20 million from the general fund for the first year. The city council could then use the first year to discuss alternative payment plans which might do a better job getting the necessary funding for the projects without harming businesses.
However, the original proposal prevailed by a 9-4 vote. According to the Colorado Independent, Denver residents preferred the original proposal because it would take immediate action and ensure that any affordable housing projects start immediately. One advocate from affordable housing noted that a yearlong delay is a lifetime.
But while both plans disagreed on how to fund the housing project, all parties admitted that the housing plan will not be enough to assuage the continued demand for housing. But until additional measures – such as handling the backlog of permits which has kept housing projects from starting – are done, Denver residents will likely need to rely on alternative measures such as sharing rooms or basements. In other crowded cities such as San Francisco, some residents have chosen to live in trucks or converted shipping containers into homes.