73 percent of Denver voters would support tax increases to fund affordable housing efforts, survey says

Seventy-three percent of Denver voters polled in a new survey would support bumping up sales taxes to fund affordable housing initiatives in the city, said a group that is looking at ways to implement such a plan.

Tallying the opinions of 404 people likely to vote in the 2018 election, the survey asked participants last month if they would support increasing sales taxes in Denver by 0.1 percent over 20 years. That would allow the city to issue bonds for up to $200 million to fund the creation of low-income housing, land buys for affordable projects and emergency assistance for people experiencing homelessness or at risk of being priced out of where they live, the survey said.

Twenty-three percent of respondents said they oppose that idea, according to results shared last week. The survey, performed by national consulting firm Strategies 360, had a margin of error of 4.9 percent.

The poll was sponsored by nine groups including All In Denver, a volunteer organization of local developers, residents and advocates that formed in 2016 with a focus on boosting social equity. All In Denver commissioned a similar survey in February 2017 that found 74 percent of likely 2018 voters polled approved of the city’s creation of $150 million affordable housing fund in 2016, but more than 70 percent of those polled supported borrowing the money up front rather than letting a fund fill with property taxes and impact fees over 10 years.

This year’s survey also found broad support for possible mill levy increases that would fund affordable housing bonds. Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they would support a 1/2 mill property tax hike, and 64 percent said they would support a full mill. Those measures would result in an additional $16 or $32 annual tax payment for a median value home in Denver, and allow the city bond for $116 million or $232 million, respectively, the survey said.

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“This is a call to action,” All In Denver co-founder Brad Segal said of the results. They show 2/3 to 3/4 of the local electorate favors tax measures that would generate a surge in funding for affordable housing. The rapid influx is needed if “we are going to make a dent is stabilizing neighborhoods,” he said.

All In Denver is exploring both working with the City Council to have a tax measure referred to the November ballot and petitioning as a means to get one in front of voters, Segal said.

City Council members, including President Albus Brooks, have voiced support recently for at least doubling the city’s $15 million-per-year target for its affordable housing fund.-

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