As a 30-year public servant working both in and outside of government, I believe that every action that directly affects the people should originate with the people most impacted. Rather than the current administration’s top-down planning process, I will implement community- and resident-driven development which includes renters, homeowners
Compassion matters. I believe that a great city is not measured by its wealth, but in the way it treats its people, particularly our most vulnerable neighbors. Criminalizing our unhoused neighbors, by way of “move on” orders and the urban camping ban, results in failed policies based in fear that have not proven effective at reducing homelessness.
In fact, a criminalization approach can make the situation worse: These policies have overwhelming collateral consequences on homeless populations by pushing unhoused people to dangerous areas, pushing them farther away from vital resources, and causing adverse health effects. As homeless people are forced into the shadows, extremely harmful consequences usually follow; this is a public safety and public health issue for those who are experiencing homelessness.
As a 20-year service provider, I’ll take an evidence-based approach to this issue, by investing in proven models to reduce homelessness, converting the old jail into treatment facility, bringing a multimillion dollar housing bond to voters, and creating a centralized Housing Department. I will appoint administrators in the Housing Department with deep expertise and experience with our complex housing issues so that we can implement a coherent, comprehensive, and consistent strategy that leverages public and private resources to provide multiple pathways to proper shelter, temporary housing, permanent supportive housing, treatment services, and long-term affordable housing in mixed-income communities for those experiencing homelessness.
I will prioritize a housing-first model, where people experiencing chronic homelessness are placed in housing without preconditions, such as sobriety or treatment. Meeting people where they are at, stabilizing them through rapid housing, and then incorporating wrap-around services is a better use of taxpayer dollars than the more expensive criminalization approach to public safety as it relates to homelessness.
We must also equip those who are not homeless with alternatives to involving law enforcement in situations better handled by other supportive organizations. As mayor, I will bring together business owners, city agencies, service providers, and community members (housed and unhoused) to come to fair and equitable solutions. This would include education and outreach to the business community, providing business owners with the resources and best practices in how to engage with and support those experiencing homelessness without involving law enforcement.
By working together, Denver can be a model for how residents, service providers, business owners and city leaders can create housing for all and improve community well-being. A great city isn’t just measured by its wealth, but how it cares for those in need.