Denver Voters Asked to Continue Tax for Homelessness Fund

By Corbett Stevenson

In 2020, Denver voters passed the Homelessness Resolution Fund—a 0.25% sales tax increase dedicated to city and county-wide programs assisting people experiencing homelessness. This November, Denver will be asked to vote on the fund again through measure 2K.

Britta Fisher, Denver’s chief housing officer and the executive director of the Department of Housing Stability, explained that the funds generated from the tax since 2020 have been used to make large improvements to Denver’s systems.

“In these first two years of the fund, we’ve made really significant investments into housing, shelter, and services for those experiencing homelessness in Denver,” Fisher said. “It’s allowed Denver to transform our shelter system to be 24/7 which was really important during the pandemic rather than just the overnight shelter system that existed before.”

Denver voters will be asked this November whether to retain excess taxes collected to support the unhoused population for the unhoused population. Photo Courtesy of the Denver Department Of Housing Stability / Evan Semón

According to a Homelessness Resolution Fund update in May, the funds were used to transform the city’s shelter system from an overnight services to 24/7, funded thousands of households to keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it provided funding for two supportive housing projects that combined will add 129 income-restricted homes for people exiting homelessness.

HOST stated in its report that the initial supportive housing developments are part of a plan to build more than 1,800 income-restricted housing units within the next decade using the resolution fund.

The uses of the funds are guided by Denver’s Five-Year Strategic Plan to increase housing and decrease homelessness. It made up about 15% of HOST’s projected expenditures for 2022, according to the plan. Fisher explained that the fund generated more money than the city had initially predicted—about 3% over the originally projected $40 million.

“The ballot item this November is to reauthorize the Homelessness Resolution Fund and to allow the city to retain the additional amount collected in excess of the initial projection,” Fisher said. If the measure doesn’t pass, the money would return to voters.

“One of the things that’s great about the Homelessness Resolution Fund is its ability to help us with supportive housing—the remarkably successful housing type that we’ve found here in Denver where you take housing and wrap it with supportive services,” Fisher said. “We plan to deliver more than 1,800 supportive housing units in the next 10 years with the help of this fund.

“(This housing) will help people exit homelessness and stay stably housed and I think that’s just the kind of thing Denver voters had in mind with this fund,” Fisher said.

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