Denver Metro Leaders Rejoice Financial Restoration and Goal Homelessness in State of the Metropolis | Dg stress
Hundreds of regional business leaders from the Denver metropolitan area celebrated the economic recovery and discussed current challenges at the State of the City 2021 speech by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.
Politicians and business people told the group that homelessness and housing costs continue to be barriers to the Denver metropolitan area.
“The past year and a half has not been easy for either of us,” said Kelly Brough, CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. “It is clear, however, that our economy is on its way back.”
Brough said Colorado regained 79% of the jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic, making the state the 12th fastest private sector recovery in the nation. CNBC ranked Colorado the 8th best state for business.
Brough said rising costs in Colorado are “worrying.” She said Colorado ranks 38th for lowest business costs and rising housing costs have moved Colorado from the second best place to live to 14th place in recent years, with the average Denver home price hitting over $ 545,000 last month.
The Mayors of Englewood and Wheat Ridge emphasized the importance of increasing affordable housing and homeless resources in the Denver metropolitan area during a panel discussion.
Englewood Mayor Linda Olson said her town’s small economy weathered the pandemic due to neighborly business practices and federal aid. She expressed great concern over a local crisis caused by the end of the state eviction moratorium.
A poll by the Census Bureau found that 40% of adults in Colorado were prone to not being able to pay their rent or mortgage for the next month, 25% of whom live in Denver alone.
“I think the next two months will be critical,” said Olson. “We really have to concentrate in the next two months, otherwise we will have a big crisis.”
Englewood is working in partnership with Littleton and Sheridan on plans to build the area’s first homeless shelter, Olson said. Last year, a survey found that Englewood’s school system had 300 families affected by homelessness, she said.
Wheat Ridge Mayor Bud Starker said his city has launched a Navigator program to connect homeless residents to services and is working to diversify its housing stock, increase affordable housing, and expand eligibility for affordable housing.
These efforts coincide with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s speech last month in which he identified tackling homelessness as his top priority in his last two years in office.
On Tuesday, Hancock reiterated its commitment to increasing homeless shelters, including hotel and motel rooms, tiny home villages, managed homeless camps and secure parking.
In addition, Hancock said the city will expand housing vouchers, rental and utility grants, eviction protection programs and affordable housing, and put $ 28 million in federal restoration money into Denver’s Affordable Housing Fund pending city council approval.
However, Hancock said housing isn’t the only solution to homelessness.
“Our warehouses are not just a reflection of a housing problem,” said Hancock. “Our challenge is fueled by a mental health challenge, mental illness, drug addiction, and the opioid crisis. … If we want to be effective, we have to solve these problems effectively. We have to be honest. “
Hancock stressed the need for increased drug rehabilitation and mental health resources, and urged the federal government to do more to help cities tackle homelessness.
From 2010 to 2017, the number of homeless residents in the greater Denver area fell from 8,752 to 5,116, according to annual surveys. But since 2017 that population has grown, reaching 6,104 in 2020. Of these homeless residents, 1,561 are not housed.
“Denver is one of the first cities to overcome the pandemic collapse in terms of recovery,” Hancock said. “We must do whatever is necessary to keep our community on the path to recovery.”