A Denver For All
While our city continues to experience tremendous growth and prosperity, opportunities to thrive in Denver are not shared equally.1 As Mayor, I will work tirelessly to make Denver a City for everyone—to ensure that the quality of life of Denverites is not determined by their zip code, income level, race, language, or any other characteristic. I will make sure Denver’s growth reaches every neighborhood by giving every kid a chance to find their passion, every family a path to building wealth, and every community a share of ownership over the economic development that happens in their neighborhood. Furthermore, my administration will ensure that the quality and quantity of services, from snow removal to pothole repair to emergency response, isn’t determined by where you live.
Here is my plan to accomplish these goals. As with every part of my policy platform, we know it works and we know how to pay for it.
1. Create Neighborhood Investment Trusts to give neighborhoods ownership over the profits from their redevelopment. Rather than allowing the wealth earned from commercial development to leave the community, my administration will give residents the opportunity to share in the profits.
- Leverage City resources to give neighborhoods a financial stake. We have an innovative new approach to building community wealth called Neighborhood Investment Trusts. These trusts are designed to give neighbors ownership and investment in the developments that happen in their own neighborhood. For example, if there was a piece of city-owned land where someone was pursuing a development, the city could contribute the land to the development in return for the city getting a 20% ownership stake in the project. The city would then distribute that 20% of equity shares as stock ownership to the neighbors who lived in that community. That would mean as the property generated revenue, residents could receive regular dividend checks for their ownership, or they would be the beneficiaries of any future sale of the property. This would mean that neighbors in a community like Globeville or Elyria Swansea could have direct ownership over new development in their own neighborhood, ending the cycle where outside investors get rich and long-time community members get displaced.
There are a number of ways for the city to partner on these projects, such as working to bring parties together or as a direct investor of land or resources into projects that would benefit community members and build community wealth.2 By owning shares, community members can be first in line for profits, receiving dividends they can use as supplemental income. In many neighborhoods, new development is seen as a win-lose proposition, new resources come to the neighborhoods but residents never benefit from that investment and instead they inherit higher prices with no benefits. With our approach this development can be a win-win where community members directly benefit from new development. And when the property sells, community members will reap the benefits of redevelopment, walking away with a profit they can use to ensure their longevity in the area.3
2. Close the wealth gap by expanding homeownership through down payment assistance. As part of my plan to create moreaffordable housing, I’ll expand upon my success from the Dearfield Fund for Black Wealth, which supports first-time Black homebuyers through down-payment assistance and was honored by the Brookings Institution as a national model.4 The wealth gap between Black and white families with children can be as large as 100 to 1, and assistance with a $40,000 down payment can increase a family’s wealth by at least $150,000 within 10 years. By expanding assistance to Denver’s broader population of first-generation and first-time home buyers, I’ll directly target wealth gaps and help every family’s dream of becoming a homeowner turn into a reality.
3. Close the achievement gap and help kids find their passion by connecting low income students to positive out-of-school opportunities. High-income families spend five times more on out-of-school activities and summer programs than low-income families.5 That spending exacerbates disparities in access to opportunity, and it also deprives children of enriching connections and experiences. We can close this gap through innovative programs that can help reduce risk-taking behavior in teens simultaneously.
- Provide after school and summer enrichment to kids from low-income households. We want young people to be able to access the programs that inspire them and prepare them for their future. That could be arts, athletics, music, science, math, robotics, or mental health support. Our program will help provide resources that families can access to support the after school programming that best fits their child’s needs and interests.6 In a current pilot program to provide enrichment activities to low-income households, families are given a broad list of possible providers to choose from. They will have the flexibility to identify the program of their choice, and the city will directly fund their participation in that program.7 As Mayor, I will expand this pilot program to reach more free and reduced lunch students in Denver, which will have the added benefit of helping parents get high-quality programming for their kids while they are at work. This also provides much needed funding to community-based nonprofits, arts and athletics, and tutoring programs that are often led by entrepreneurs of color but struggle to get access to larger public grant programs. Denver teachers and schools would bepre-approved as providers so any educators who wanted to offer after school programming could receive funding to support those students who need it the most.
- We know it works. Out-of-school programming has been found to help narrow the achievement gap, with benefits starting in early education and continuing through higher grade levels.8 And a groundbreaking program in Iceland found that the increased availability of out-of-school programs had positive impacts on teen substance use, with teen marijuana usage decreasing 10%, teen drinking decreasing 38%, and teen smoking decreasing by 20%.9
- We know how to pay for it. The first launch of this program will focus on middle school students and will serve approximately 4,000 kids with 4 million in combined city and philanthropic funding.10 If the pilot is successful, we will work to expand this program to include high school and middle school students. That expansion would require us to partner with City Council and advocacy groups to secure $22 million of funding to serve every DPS child who receives free and reduced lunch over the course of my first term.11
4. Help every Denver resident get to work—and stay at work. 12% of our city is made up of immigrants.12 We have thousands of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients who currently work in Denver, and 200,000 more residents at risk of deportation.13 These are members of our community who currently work for businesses who want to keep them employed. Yet there is a risk that the Supreme Court will overturn the DACA program and these 14,000 Coloradans would have to walk off the jobs they love and deepen our labor crisis. This is bad for kids and families, bad for business, and bad for Denver. That is why as Mayor, I will stand by our undocumented residents and create a pathway for DACA recipients to work if the program is eliminated.
- Keep DACA recipients connected to lawful employment. Our city, like our nation generally, faces a labor shortage.14 But we have thousands of recent immigrants who are currently working under DACA permits and could lose their jobs as many predict the Supreme Court will eliminate DACA in 2024, leaving the future in doubt for those workers.15 We can prevent that by providing a mechanism for employers to employ those workers legally. As Mayor, I will lead a public private partnership to create staffing agencies that could function as limited liability companies (LLCs) that could employ undocumented residents as contractors.
- These staffing agencies can contract with existing employers to help provide services they need and want, and then pay DACA recipients as contractors for those services provided. This program is a win-win: we can serve the needs of our undocumented neighbors while addressing the labor shortage simultaneously.16 Our DACA recipients help make Denver vibrant. We need to keep our promise to them that they can work and live here.
5. Make it easier for minority-led businesses to access city funds.
- Expedite decision making around investments. Right now, the status quo to draw down investment dollars for small businesses is arduous and time consuming. Many entrepreneurs of color experience months to years long delays to receive word on critical funding needs. These are precisely the kind of unique, culturally diverse small businesses that make Denver special, and we need to make it easier for these businesses to launch and grow. As Mayor, I will push our decision making process to be more aggressive in betting on our small entrepreneurs, especially entrepreneurs of color who too often get turned away from traditional banking. The role of the city should be to support these leaders who have great business plans but can’t get traditional financing. By betting on more small businesses, we can foster a unique, vibrant and diverse business environment in Denver.
- Help entrepreneurs of color by convening co-investors. Small business investment is critical to fostering a diverse and vibrant Denver. As Mayor, I will routinely convene philanthropic and business leaders across the state who are interested in elevating the voices of small business via direct equity investments and grants. I’ll work with DEDO to ensure that there are community representatives who will invite burgeoning BIPOC businesses to the table so they’re able to pitch themselves and their business plans to these potential funding sources. I will also work directly with investors and community organizations to help make microbusiness incubators and workspaces more readily available. Accessibility is key and as Mayor I will make more diverse funding sources accessible to small businesses.
6. Make it easier for Denver families to find child care. The current cost and scarcity of child care is keeping women out of the workforce17 That’s because families receive almost no help in alleviating the skyrocketing cost of child care18—or even help in simply finding child care in the first place. We will provide incentives for more workplaces to offer child care onsite, which increases the supply of child care, the convenience of child care, and lowers the cost of child care. This plan will include steps we can take to make it easier to find child care, pay for child care, and evaluate child care, and are detailed in our upcoming workforce and education plan.
|Provide $1,000 to the family of everylow-income student in Denver for out-of-school activities.||$4 million in year one pilot.||$4 million pilot funded by existing city after school funding and philanthropic dollars|
|Expand the City’s funding for down-payment assistance.||$9 million per year.||The funding Denver will receive from Proposition 123 earmarked fordown-payment assistance—$9 million.|
1 See https://coloradosun.com/2022/06/08/colorado-homeownership-racial-gap/.
2 See https://www.smartcitiesdive.com/news/neighborhood-investment-trusts-reit-commercial-real-estate/634440/.
3 See https://www.smartcitiesdive.com/news/neighborhood-investment-trusts-reit-commercial-real-estate/634440/; https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/103341/new-models-for-community-shareholding_0.pdf; https://kresge.org/news-views/neighborhood-investment-trusts-are-promising-wealth-building-models-for-residents-in-revitalizing-communities/
4 See https://garycommunity.org/content-category/press-releases-and-announcements/dearfield-fund-launches/.
6 Based on the current pilot, eligibility for the program is based on students’ participation in schools’ Free and Reduced Lunch programsdue to their household income. FRL is currently the state standard measure for students’ socioeconomic status – should this standard measure change on the state level, that new measure would be used to determine eligibility instead. Currently, this program will serve middle school students, but aims to eventually scale up to support students of all grade levels.
7 Recipients will be able to choose from a list of providers that include more traditionally academic services like access to one-on-one tutoring from teachers, but also broader enrichment services like mental health services and access to resources like the Denver Zoo.
10 This is on pages 81-82 of the 2023 Denver budget.
11 This is on page 21 of the 2023 Denver budget.
12 See https://www.denverpost.com/2021/06/26/immigration-colorado-legislature-2021-undocumented/.
13 See https://www.cbsnews.com/colorado/news/daca-recipients-living-colorado-uncertain-future-court-ruling/.
14 See https://coloradosun.com/2022/08/06/employers-labor-shortage-jobs-decline/.
15 See https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/16/us/court-daca-dreamers.html.
16 See https://coloradosun.com/2022/08/06/employers-labor-shortage-jobs-decline/.
17 See https://www.americanprogress.org/article/child-care-crisis-keeping-women-workforce/.
18 See https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/06/upshot/child-care-biden.html.