City takes steps to ensure accountability of the use of funds approved by Initiative 2B

Following the passage of Initiative 2B in the recent municipal election, Denver’s Department of Housing Stability

(HOST) is taking steps to ensure accountability of the use of funds and to establish a public engagement process to inform specific plans for the fund’s investments and outcomes.

Denver voters passed Initiative 2B, authorizing an increase of .25% to Denver’s Sales and Use Tax to establish a new Homelessness Resolution Fund. The funding created by the measure will be used by HOST to generate more pathways out of homelessness through proven models such as combining housing and services, restoring lost shelter capacity, and improving the health and housing outcomes of shelter through more mental and physical health, employment, and other services for those who are unsheltered.

“This vote is a game changer in our efforts to support residents experiencing homelessness,” said Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “Denver showed we are willing to do our part, and I want to thank the voters for stepping up at this critical time. Through proven solutions, we’re going to transform lives, and this vote shows how as a community, we are dedicated to building a healthy, housed, and connected Denver for all.”

Later this month, HOST will issue an addendum to its draft 2021 Action Plan that will outline a framework for expenditure of the 2B funds in 2021. Release of the addendum will be followed by a public comment period, giving individuals an opportunity to review and provide input directly. The addendum and supporting information will be available in both English and Spanish.

A final draft of the action plan addendum will be reviewed by a new HOST governance body that is currently being assembled by the Mayor’s Office and Denver City Council. Recruitment of the HOST Strategic Advisors began earlier this fall. The 11-member body includes six Mayoral appointments and five appointments by City Council; at least three of the advisor positions are required to be filled by individuals with lived expertise.

“I have deep gratitude for Denver voters and their compassion and confidence that we can make a difference together with people experiencing homelessness,” said Britta Fisher, HOST Executive Director. “While the need for housing and services significantly outweighs the amount provided through 2B, this is a critical step in funding lasting solutions and getting people stably housed.”

Eligible uses for the fund include housing development, rental assistance and supportive services for housing; expanding shelter capacity and access to 24/7 services, mental health care, substance treatment, housing/employment counseling, and COVID-19 prevention; providing multiple services at a single site; and other programs and services for those experiencing homelessness. For 2021, the 2B funds are expected to assist HOST to transition from the COVID-19 public health emergency, set up infrastructure for long-term outcomes for those experiencing homelessness, and help connect individuals and families to existing housing.

“I'm so grateful to Denver voters for their bold and compassionate support for this measure," expressed City Council sponsor, At-large Councilwoman Robin Kniech. “These dollars will help us scale up and speed up proven solutions that we know work, like supportive housing that provides apartments at rents households can afford along with services and supports to stay housed. Our community will need to stay as committed and compassionate as we transition to implementation and creation of the new housing and services 2B will fund.”

As approved, Initiative 2B will cost an average household about $5.25 per month. The fund is estimated to generate an average of approximately $40 million annually over the first 10 years. However, revenue from 2B in 2021 is expected to be lower due to reduced economic activity resulting from the pandemic.