Denver’s high cost of housing and lack of affordable alternatives appears to be city residents’ biggest concern, and a majority are likely to support some increase in property or sales taxes to fix the problem.
That’s the indication of a public opinion poll conducted last month on behalf of All In Denver, a non-profit public advocacy organization that focuses on urban sustainability issues.
For the poll, 404 likely voters in Denver were asked a series of questions aimed at the respondents’ top concerns about the city. The poll, conducted by Strategies360, has a margin of error of 4.9 percent.
After housing, education, homelessness and cost of living in Denver were the top concerns. Transportation came in fifth place among the top concerns in the poll, followed by public safety, jobs and the economy, parks and trails, taxes, green issues and sustainability and libraries.
The poll suggests that substantial majorities of residents would be supportive of raising property or sales taxes under three different taxing scenarios to deal with affordable housing issues. The biggest support came when respondents were asked if they’d support higher sales taxes for affordable housing efforts, which got 73 percent support.
Slightly fewer, 68 percent, said they’d support a half-mill increase in the property tax mill levy to raise $116 million a year for affordable housing and 64 percent would be willing to raise the levy one mill to raise $232 million.
“The results of this poll again shine a spotlight on Denverites’ strong desire to prioritize affordable housing because it impacts everyone in our fast-growing city,” said Brad Segal, co-founder of All In Denver and a community development practitioner. “Denver’s housing market is increasingly out of reach for even moderate-income families, which threatens our city’s economic and cultural vitality. For Denver to remain a community of opportunity—where our residents can find quality, affordable homes with access to jobs, neighborhood amenities and resources—we have to make greater investments in housing. And this survey indicates that Denver voters are supportive of a bolder approach than our current strategies.”
The poll suggests that residents aren’t satisfied with the city’s response to either affordable housing problems or with homelessness. Sixty-six percent of those polled said the city is doing too little to solve homelessness and affordable housing and 80 percent said they would be more likely to support candidates for public office that make affordable housing a top priority.
“Denver’s new 5-Year Housing Plan features strategies for transitional housing for people experiencing homelessness, community land trusts, accessory dwelling units to stabilize neighborhoods, down payment assistance to increase home ownership, and land acquisition,” said Andrew Romero, an All In Denver board member. “We know that zoning and land use policy also can make an impact. But we currently lack the financial resources to implement our strategies. The results of this survey clearly show that Denver voters see this as a citywide challenge that needs more energy, focus and funding.”
More than two thirds of the respondents own their own homes already in Denver and have at least some college level education. Nearly 60 percent have lived in Denver for more than 20 years. Seventy-one percent were white, 15 percent Hispanic or Latino and 9 percent were African American.