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My at-large office is a bustling place. In addition to serving constituents and representing the people of Denver by voting on ordinances in City Council Committees and Meetings, I believe good leaders need to anticipate opportunities, identify challenges and proactively work to address them. I do so by focusing on areas that make use of my qualifications and/or are of high priority to the citizens of Denver, and by partnering closely with communities, issue experts and other stakeholders. My current initiatives fall into several themes:
New Council District boundaries for purposes of the 2015 municipal election.
Denver is experiencing a strong economic recovery from the recent recession, including a building boom and status among the nation’s top destinations for new residents, attracting around 2,600 households a year. But increased demand has pushed housing costs to among the top ten most expensive in the country, while wages have stagnated. The result is a threat to the very diversity that makes this city so appealing. Median home prices are out of reach for many young and middle income families, preventing or delaying homeownership. For seniors on fixed incomes and working families in the service sector, a recent trend toward luxury apartments and the influx of new residents have raised rents, making affordable rental housing nearly impossible to find and keep. First-time homelessness for families and individuals is also on the rise.
1) A new source of sustainable funding to build and preserve more affordable homes. For many years, Denver has relied only on federal dollars and creative financing to build and preserve critical housing for our low-wage workers, seniors, and the homeless. That has changed with recent one-time investments from the city’s general fund that have been leveraged to create a revolving loan fund. The focus now is to identify a renewable and dedicated source of funding that can be set aside exclusively for affordable housing, modeled on best practices from most other major cities, to dramatically increase the number of homes we can build or preserve over the course of 10-15 years.
2) Support the development of permanent, transitional, and shelter housing, with supportive services, for our most vulnerable residents. In Denver alone, it is estimated that more than 3,000 individuals do not have a reliable place to call home, with more than 400 living on our streets. A portion of any new dedicated source of funding should be used to house individuals and families experiencing homelessness, but Councilwoman Kniech is also actively engaged in other projects to meet the daily needs of homeless individuals while we work on the ultimate goal of permanent housing.
3) Ensure that large-scale development projects seeking public subsidies include an affordable housing component. Tax increment financing, a public financing tool to help address blight and spur redevelopment, can help to fill a funding gap and make new projects possible. When receiving city investments, redevelopment projects must include mixed income and affordable housing for working families and/or seniors.
4) Support regional approaches to mixed income housing and services. While some solutions may be localized, the need for housing and homeless services does not stop at city boundaries. Investment in land and housing development near current or planned transit stations will help address regional affordability, such as through the Regional TOD Fund. Coordinated databases and approaches for shelter and services can help better serve homeless individuals throughout the metro area. And because it has such an impact on transportation and population trends, affordable housing must be a part of our regional land use and transportation plans.
The Inclusionary Housing Ordinance – requires 10% affordability in new, for-sale developments of 30 or more units. Revisions to Denver’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance (IHO) were passed by Council in two phases. The first round of revisions to the IHO, passed in June of 2013, supported better-educated homeowners, and created circumstances that increase a family’s ability to avoid foreclosure and build wealth in diverse neighborhoods. The second phase, guided by an economic study of Denver’s housing needs, was passed by City Council in August 2014, and recalibrated the developer requirements to help build more homes, and provide a more flexible range of options to do so.
Find more detailed information about both Phase I and Phase II adopted changes below.
Please contact Laura Brudzynski for more information on the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance and other housing initiatives in Denver.
Phase II (Historical Documents):
Denver has been recognized as an early leader in environmental conservation, but in some areas we have fallen behind the best practices of other major cities, and we have more work to do to ensure a sustainable future. Councilwoman Kniech’s priorities include:
• Provide robust and safe alternatives to driving a gasoline-powered car, including improved public transit, ensuring all neighborhoods have sidewalks, accommodating new technologies such as car-shares, and expanded bicycling infrastructure. Councilwoman Kniech is a leader on these issues not only in Denver, but through her role with the Denver Regional Council of Governments, which oversees comprehensive planning and transportation funding in the Denver Metro region.
• Ensure city investments in businesses or redevelopment are consistent with conservation outcomes, such as promoting density in appropriate areas, requiring green building standards, and business development assistance to grow more green technology, service and manufacturing companies in Denver.
Although the economy has impacted all sectors of the economy and all cities, Denver has lost a higher percentage of manufacturing jobs than the state, the nation, and the metro region.
Councilwoman Kniech has taken the initiative to learn why Denver is under performing, to revamp efforts to maintain and expand existing manufacturing and light industrial businesses in our City, and to lay the groundwork for expansion and growth in this important but overlooked sector. The manufacturing and light industrial sectors (warehouse, distribution, repair, etc.) provide middle-income jobs and an important tax base for Denver.