By City Council Member Darrell Watson
Time flies when you’re having fun. We celebrated our first 100 days in office on Oct. 24. It has been a very busy and very productive 100 days, and I’d like to take a few minutes to discuss the work we have done so far and our priorities for the months ahead. Top on our priority list has been the administration’s Housing 1,000 emergency declaration as well as finalizing the 2024 budget. For more information, visit the Housing 1,000 website: denvergov.org/house1000.
You can also contact my office with questions or any concerns.
District 9 is home to a large concentration of encampments and service providers. We held the first town hall in the city to confront this emergency order on July 25 – just one week after being sworn into office.
I have been steadfast in my support of the administration’s goals to transition 1,000 currently unsheltered residents to indoor shelter. I thank District 9 residents, especially in the Five Points and Ballpark neighborhoods, for shouldering the responsibility for so many of our unsheltered residents.
I hear you and will continue to work with urgency with all residents, small businesses, wrap-around service providers and our enforcement agencies to find long-term housing and decommission encampments throughout District 9.
City Council has an important role in shaping the $1.7 billion general fund budget for the city and county of Denver. Thank you to everyone who shared with our offices your ideas of amendments to this 900-plus page budget.
Our city budget is a “moral document.” Based on your feedback, I support several funding increases that were added to the October revised budget. They are:
- $2 million in additional funding for participatory budget process
- $3 million in additional funding for Denver Health
- $3 million in additional funding for rental assistance
- $2 million in additional funding for Denver Basic Income
- $1 million in additional funding for Safe Routes to Schools
The District 9 office also proposed adding $500,000 to be allocated to small businesses impacted by encampments. We are proud to announce that those funds have been allocated, and businesses will be able to apply for funding before the end of year.
Based on your feedback, I will present these two amendments to increase funding for the following:
- $5 million dollars to rental assistance, bringing that total to $20 million
- $550,000 to Vision Zero to reinstate the funding that was previously cut
These amendments will help ensure District 9 is more affordable, more accessible and frankly more livable. District 9 must be a place where everyone can safely travel, whether by walking, biking or driving. And it must be a district where no one is getting priced out of their homes. For more information about the 2024 budget, visit denvergov.org/CityCouncil and click the Resident’s Guide.
In just 100 days we’ve met with community members throughout District 9. Convening and attending meetings/events with elders at Barney Ford Heights to young leaders at Montessori Academy of Colorado and Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy and everything in between from attending Registered Neighborhood Organization meetings in seven of the nine neighborhoods in District 9 to planting trees in Curtis Park. In total, 67 community discussions. We are committed to being responsive to all communities in District 9 and our work has just begun.
Legislatively, I’m looking forward to collaborating with communities on moving forward with rank choice voting for city elections, streamlining the accessory dwelling unit process throughout District 9 and the city, and looking at creating the architecture for minimizing the impacts of reducing the use of fossil fuel-generated energy in residential homes. I will share more information in the upcoming months about how you all can engage with these important topics.
It is my honor to serve you as your Denver City Council member. I will always focus on making progress on the biggest issues impacting you and your families. I will continue to work to earn and maintain your support. Have a blessed November.
Council Member Darrell Watson is the vice chairman of the Land Use, Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and sits on the Safety, Housing, Education & Homelessness Committee. Council Member Watson actively serves on the Metro Area County Commissioners, and prior to his election in 2023 he was a small business owner, chairman of the Denver Housing Stability Strategic Advisors, co-chairman of the Denver Game Plan for a Healthy City and co-chairman of the Denver Biased Policing Task Force.
District 9 contact information:
720-337-7709 and firstname.lastname@example.org
Bonnie Guillen, Senior Aide: email@example.com
Lynne Lombard, Council Aide: firstname.lastname@example.org
Darius Shelby, Council Aide: email@example.com