DENVER (CBS4) – Denver residents will be able to vote on a new retail sales tax that would be used to fund services for people experiencing homelessness. On Monday night, Denver City Council voted unanimously to put the sales tax initiative on the ballot.
The .25% tax would fund the Homelessness Resolution Program for housing and other services. That would cost an average household about $5.25 a month. If approved, the tax would go into effect Jan. 1, 2021.
Councilwoman Robin Kniech introduced the proposal. She admitted it’s not perfect, but said it’s a start.
“I get asked all the time, ‘What can this money achieve? does anything even work?’ And the interesting about this topic is that the success is 100% invisible,” said Kniech. “Every time we house someone, our community can’t see it because they’re living in apartments, in a home, maybe a transitional housing unit… they are not visible to us anymore.”
The Downtown Denver Partnership issued a statement Tuesday in support of the proposed sales tax. They expect the tax would generate an estimated $40 million annually.
The DDP says the money would used for building housing and expanding rental assistance; expanding the number of shelter beds and access to 24-hour shelters and services; and providing more housing referrals and other supportive services to people living on the street.
“We believe this proposal is a key piece of the puzzle in our city’s continued efforts to address homelessness,” said Tami Door, President and CEO of the DDP.
The ordinance will be on the ballot in the special municipal election on Nov. 3.
On Tuesday morning, Denver’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure cleaned up a homeless encampment on 22nd Street, between Broadway and Stout Street.