Ballot measure 2B will fund three primary strategies to reduce homelessness in Denver: expand shelter access, create more housing, and use services to reach people who are unsheltered. These initiatives will ease the challenges facing our neighborhoods and transform the lives of children, families and individuals who are facing hard times.

Ballot measure 2B is a .25% sales tax, or 2.5 cents on a $10 purchase, to fund housing, shelter and services for people experiencing or exiting homelessness. Many products purchased in Denver are exempt from this tax, including food, medicine, fuel, and feminine hygiene products

Ballot measure 2B will fund resources, support services, and housing for individuals and families who have experienced a loss of stable housing. This ballot measure will fund three primary strategies to reduce homelessness:

  • Build supportive housing and expand rental assistance in Denver.
  • Increase the number of available shelter beds in Denver.
  • Provide funding for innovative programs, such as tiny homes, hiring street outreach workers, providing medical, behavioral, and drug treatment programs.

It is estimated this ballot measure will raise about $40 million each year to fund housing, shelters and initiatives to help reduce homelessness.

Denver’s Department of Housing Stability (HOST) will manage and invest these funds in community-based providers. This ballot measure requires transparent and inclusive planning and public reporting, including oversight from an advisory board and City Council approval of budgets and plans.

This issue will appear on the ballot as 2B. It will be on the back side of the second page of your ballot. The ballot language that will appear on your ballot is as follows:

SHALL CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER SALES AND USE TAXES BE INCREASED BY $40 MILLION ANNUALLY, COMMENCING JANUARY 1, 2021, AND BY WHATEVER ADDITIONAL AMOUNTS ARE RAISED ANNUALLY THEREAFTER, FROM A TWENTY-FIVE ONE-HUNDREDTHS OF ONE PERCENT (0.25%) SALES AND USE TAX RATE (2.5 CENTS ON A TEN-DOLLAR PURCHASE), THAT WILL NOT BE COLLECTED ON FOOD FOR HOME CONSUMPTION, WATER, FUEL, MEDICAL SUPPLIES OR FEMININE HYGIENE PRODUCTS, TO BE USED TO FUND HOUSING, SHELTER OR SERVICES FOR PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO:

BUILDING HOUSING, EXPANDING RENTAL ASSISTANCE OR PROVIDING SUPPORTIVE SERVICES OR OTHER SUPPORTS TO HOUSE PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS;

EXPANDING THE NUMBER OF SHELTER BEDS, IMPROVING ACCESS FOR UNDERSERVED POPULATIONS, AND PROVIDING BETTER HEALTH AND HOUSING OUTCOMES THROUGH 24-HOUR SHELTER AND DROP-IN DAY SERVICES SUCH AS CORONAVIRUS PREVENTION, MENTAL HEALTH CARE, SUBSTANCE TREATMENT, HOUSING AND EMPLOYMENT COUNSELING, AND OTHER SERVICES; AND

PROVIDING MORE HOUSING REFERRALS AND OTHER SERVICES TO PEOPLE LIVING ON THE STREETS OR IN CARS TO HELP THEM EXIT HOMELESSNESS;

AND, IN CONNECTION THEREWITH, SHALL NO MORE THAN EIGHT PERCENT (8%) OF THE TOTAL ANNUAL REVENUES DERIVED FROM THE INCREASE IN SALES AND USE TAX BE SPENT ON CITY ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS RELATED TO THE ABOVE PURPOSES; AND SHALL THE MONIES DERIVED FROM THE INCREASE IN SALES AND USE TAX NOT BE USED TO OFFSET ANY CURRENT REVENUE EXPENDITURES FROM THE GENERAL FUND; AND SHALL THE REVENUES FROM THESE INCREASED TAXES BE COLLECTED AND SPENT IN EACH FISCAL YEAR BY DENVER WITHOUT REGARD TO ANY EXPENDITURE, REVENUE-RAISING, OR OTHER LIMITATION CONTAINED WITHIN ARTICLE X, SECTION 20 OF THE COLORADO CONSTITUTION OR ANY OTHER LAW?

The need for dedicated, additional funding to address homelessness has become more critical due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to social distancing guidelines, the city’s shelter bed capacity has been reduced by 56%, or about 1,200 beds. While emergency funds have helped create new shelter capacity, the city does not have the long term funding to maintain this extra capacity. Now, as our economy remains in a recession, tens of thousands of Denver residents are out of work or at risk of unemployment or losing their housing, which could result in increased homelessness. 

The revenue from the Caring for Denver ballot question is investing in several programs that prevent or intervene in homelessness, however, that funding source also serves a wide array of other important mental health needs in our community. A sustainable focus on homelessness will be critical to improving the long-term health and housing outcomes for those experiencing homelessness in Denver.
 

Denver’s affordable housing fund was designed to fund housing for individuals and families across the full income spectrum. This funding has helped reduce homelessness, but we still face significant challenges as a city. The need for housing for people experiencing homelessness far exceeds the available funding available and there is no dedicated funding for shelters or services.