DENVER (CBS4) – The Benjamin’s story is the story of too many people. They had an apartment, but the rent increased from $1200 to $1450 a month.

“When we couldn’t afford the rent we moved from place to place to place. We were in motels we did it all,” Jahmal Benjamin said.

Jahmal Benjamin throws a ball with his son. (credit: CBS)

That included living in cars and with friends. Jamahl is a data tech, and his wife, Monika, stays at home with the kids. She is unable to work due to medical issues.

What they need is stability Monika told CBS4 investigator Rick Sallinger. She says it has been hard on their 7-year-old son.

“Because moving him to different schools, it affects him emotionally. He loses his friends, he adapts to a new school then he has to leave again. It’s really hard,” she said.

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger interviews Jahmal and Monika Benjamin. (credit: CBS)

Denver city officials are thinking about raising the marijuana sales tax in order to pay for more affordable housing.

On Monday, Mayor Michael Hancock proposed doubling the affordable housing funding from $15 million to $30 million a year.

Cannabis flower on display at Lightshade, a marijuana dispensary on 6th Ave in Denver. (credit: Vince Chandler/The Denver Post)

The proposal also calls for a $105 million funding surge for affordable housing in the next five years.

The plan makes sense to Monika.

“If you are smoking marijuana you just got to deal with, these families, there are just too many homeless people in our city,” she said.

“Just the idea of taxing marijuana more to help people with housing, I think that’s a good idea,” Jamahl said.

The Benjamin’s are now in transitional housing. They hope to get into regular affordable housing and out of a hole.

(credit: CBS)

“More resources are key to addressing this challenge. The Housing Authority has been a trusted partner in building and preserving high quality affordable homes for those who need them, and this partnership will allow us to do more, faster for residents who are working hard and need support,” said Hancock.

The marijuana sales tax could go up from 3.5 percent to 5.5 percent.

The Marijuana Industry Group responded to the proposal with the following statement: 

“Marijuana Industry Group (MIG) welcomes discussion on this subject, which would have the impact of effectively raising out-the-door prices of a $50 transaction by about $1. The organization has long hoped to see how marijuana tax revenue positively impacts the Denver community. We also appreciate the sensitivity of keeping consumer prices at a level that continues to incentivize retail customers to shop in legal, licensed and regulated establishments. The marijuana industry is a part of the communities in which we live and operate. Affordable housing is an issue that affects Denver, and as members of this community we are excited to work with the City to identify solutions that can benefit our neighbors.”

 

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