JumpStart 2015 Economic Plan Targets Housing Affordability & Development
Mayor Michael B. Hancock and the Denver Office of Economic Development (OED)have released JumpStart 2015, the fourth annual strategic plan to strengthen Denver’s economy. Last year’s plan was a wide success, creating 3,311 jobs, retaining 4,083 jobs, and accruing $139 million in capital investments by Denver firms.
This year’s plan aims to keep Denver’s economy strong and build on the momentum of last year. Updates on affordable housing and neighborhood development along with goals and objectives for the year ahead were included. Some highlights include developing proposed changes to Denver’s housing preservation ordinance to preserve affordable housing across the city and driving equitable neighborhood development through a gentrification study that focuses on the impact of revitalization. Here are some of the housing priorities discussed in the report and the objectives and tasks outlined for 2015.
Increase Housing Diversity
Goal: Provide a continuum of housing serving diverse income levels and family types (both rental and for-sale properties) that is geographically dispersed throughout the city.
- Work with partners to define goals for neighborhood affordability and access to key amenities, then work to target housing opportunities in those locations.
- Create a continually updated database of underutilized properties that could be acquired for workforce and critical needs housing.
In order to accomplish these objectives, the plan proposes centralizing relevant housing data to a GIS system so that information from the database can be integrated into funding decisions. Other tasks include identifying properties for affordable housing development and adopting a resolution that makes affordable housing and community-serving development the first priority in city-owned land.
Focus on Housing Preservation
Goal: Preserve and rehabilitate existing low-income and workforce rental housing as a cost-effective strategy to address affordable housing needs.
Activate the city and Urban Land Conservancy (ULC) low income/special needs and workforce housing preservation online mapping tool.
Officially adopt recommendations from the National Housing Trust and Mile High Connects’ “Preserving Affordable Housing in Denver” study.
Lead the formation of a permanent Preservation Collaborative that identifies, prioritizes, and raises funds to preserve expiring income-restricted rental developments
In order to accomplish these objectives, the plan aims to develop a comprehensive affordable housing preservation strategy that considers both market rate and covenant restricted multi-family buildings. By being proactive with landlords and implementing a first right of refusal to purchase, rehabilitate and/or extend affordability periods of expiring properties, the city of Denver would gain access to these properties and be able to transform them into affordable housing options. In addition, the plan prioritizes analyzing existing city ordinances and proposing appropriate changes.
Expand Home Ownership
Goal: Increase homeownership opportunities by increasing for-sale housing stock and providing new homeowners greater access to housing counseling and services
- Address the existing construction defects law through legislative action to remove the impediment it poses to new condominium development and homeownership opportunities
- Make housing counseling mandatory for all homebuyer assistance programs & encourage housing counseling providers to refer buyers to financial literacy education services; track effectiveness of housing counseling
There are numerous tasks presented to accomplish these objectives, including working with the Mayor’s Office to prioritize the best solutions for the Denver market and forging an alliance with neighborhood municipalities to endorse a state-level legislative solution.
Spotlight Sustainable Housing Development
Goal: Target critical needs and workforce housing development investments to address the city’s community health and environmental sustainability priorities, including proximity to public transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, utilization of green building standards, and access to fresh foods and amenities that encourage an active lifestyle.
Support the regional expansion of the Denver Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Fund, with the City of Denver’s investment to be reserved for Denver-specific projects.
Within the regulatory compact, promote and support the development of a net-zero energy neighborhood as a replicable demonstration project.
In order to accomplish these goals, JumpStart 2015 proposes working with a variety of partners, including Enterprise Green Communities and DHA, Denver Water and Excel Energy. Tasks include encouraging and funding the development of zero-net developments and identifying opportunities to strengthen water efficiency and energy conservation in affordable housing.