Denver, CO— The passage of Denver Ballot Measure 2B is monumental for the thousands of people experiencing homelessness in the city. On November 3, Denver voters approved a 0.25% sales tax increase to reducing homelessness through housing, supportive services, and increased COVID-19 response. Measure 2B will allow Denver to build 1,800 homes with supportive services over the next ten years. This housing will help transition people into housing from shelters or unsheltered living situations and provide services like employment counseling and behavioral health care.
“This is the result our city needed. I’m grateful to our community and look forward to growing and speeding up solutions that we know work to reduce homelessness in Denver,” said Councilwoman Robin Kniech. “Right now, thousands of individuals and families are without homes in our city, and the pandemic threatens to make it all much worse. This support from Denver voters will provide housing, shelter and services to many more people and will help Denver maintain our expanded response to the pandemic.”
“This vote is a game changer in our efforts to support residents experiencing homelessness. It will mean more housing with supportive services. It will mean financial assistance to help newly homeless families get back into housing. And it will mean expanded and improved shelters that will bring in more people from the streets,” stated Mayor Hancock. “The hard truth about the challenge of homelessness in our society is the same hard truth underlying the challenges of income inequality: a hollowed-out middle class, an alarming disparity in access to opportunity, and the challenges of mental health and poverty. It’s not just a Denver challenge, it cries out for a coordinated national, state and regional response we’re advocating for, too. Denver tonight showed we are willing to do our part, and I want to thank the voters for stepping up at this critical time.”
Existing shelter capacity in Denver has been reduced by 1,200 beds since March 2020 due to social distancing guidance at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The emergency-funded response has reduced the COVID risk among those experiencing homelessness to levels that are currently lower than the general public, but it has also demonstrated the additional benefits of 24/7 facilities that can offer enhanced daytime services to go beyond saving lives to helping to transform them.
“We know what it takes to reduce homelessness—and Measure 2B helps to put much-needed resources towards those efforts,” stated John Parvensky, President and CEO at Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. “Through these resources, we will be able to scale access to housing and other necessary support services that are proven methods nationwide and right here in our backyards.”
This measure is a win for community members everywhere. “I think having funds that support the homeless in their current state and the process of being housed will help them blossom in a stable living situation,” stated Myra Nagy, who has experienced homelessness but is now stably housed. “It’s mentally challenging accepting that you don’t have to be homeless and accepting that living in your home without the community environment is healthy.”
For more information about Measure 2B, visit yeson2b.org.