HOPE office unveiled by Mayor Hancock.
Office of HOPE when of many housing issues addressed by Hancock.
HOPE is an acronym for Housing and Opportunities for People Everywhere.
Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, today unveiled the Office of HOPE – Housing and Opportunities for People Everywhere.
In addition to the HOPE office, on Wednesday, Hancock’s administration will present the City Council with a plan to create Denver’s first permanent, dedicated fund for affordable housing,” the mayor said at his 2016 State of the City address.
“With at least $150 million to be leveraged in the first 10 years, we expect to deliver 6,000 more affordable homes,” Hancock said at the Denver International Airport.
“This is a fair, balanced and modest approach to address one of the most pressing problems facing Denver today,” he continued.
He said City Council members Robin Kniech and Albus Brooks have worked “long and hard” on the proposal. Kniech, developer Susan Powers (co-founder of Mothers Advocating for Affordable Housing( and Hancock will hold a press conference on the $150 million fund on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, HOPE, Hancock said is a “bold step” that will “bring a coordinated and comprehensive approach to the policies, programs and projects along the full homeless to housing spectrum.”
“We will knock down silos, refocus our city agencies and create a unified and forceful effort to help those who need a home, find a home,” Hancock said
“This is some of the hardest work we do, and we can do better,” Hancock said.
“This new office will harness and marshal our resources, our talent and our determination,” he said.
“It will help us identify those experiencing homelessness, get them into housing, and keep them there,” according to the mayor.
“We must seize this opportunity now, with a renewed sense of urgency and with all of you as partners,” Hancock said.
Hancock gave an example of a woman who benefitted from access not only to affordable housing, but to public transportation.
“Camille (Lewis) is a single mom of two boys, she found new affordable housing at 40th Avenue and Colorado Boulevard,” Hancock said.
“The housing is great, but just as good, she has easy access to the new University of Colorado A Line train that takes her to work,” according to Hancock.
“This train does not just provide a new connection between downtown and this beautiful international airport, it connects people to housing, jobs and education,” he said.
In addition to the HOPE office, Hancock addressed housing several times.
“Home ownership gives families a foundation to build equity, build wealth and frankly, to build a life,” Hancock said.
Affordable housing is tough in a hot market, though.
“At the beginning of a hot housing market, in 2013, I issued a challenge to the community to create 3,000 affordable homes in five years,” Hancock said.
There have been some successes.
“More than 1,800 homes have been built and 1,000 more are on the way in neighborhoods like downtown, Hale and Montbello. Denver, I am proud to report we are going to realize the 3×5 goal one year early,” Hancock said.
He thanked local developers who are “stepping up,” and mentioned the Burgwyn Co. by name.
“Not only did they open a new affordable apartment complex for military veterans, but they modified their plans to make the complex more kid-friendly when they saw an influx of families moving in,” Hancock said.
He also thanked “key public-sector partners” including the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, Colorado Division of Housing, Denver Urban Renewal Authority and the Denver Housing Authority.
“Through investments, loans, mortgage assistance and a new construction defects ordinance, we are all working overtime to keep Denver accessible and affordable,” Hancock said.
Demand for housing is off the charts.
“We cannot build housing fast enough,” Hancock said.
“As soon as the doors open, apartments are rented and houses are sold.”
Overall, the Denver economy is firing on all cylinders, according to Hancock.
Denver now employs more people than any time in its history, he said.
During the past five years, the city has added almost 60,000 jobs and the unemployment rate is 3.3 percent, he said.
“We have restored the fiscal health of our city and our reserves are now at a solid 20 percent. This is all while the region is growing by more than 4,500 people a month,” Hancock said.
New plans for the Performing Arts Complex, Colorado Convention Center and National Western Center, promise to “strengthen Denver as a hub of education, culture and tourism,” he said.
“And we have become a national model for how to run a smart, efficient and customer-focused government through Peak Performance and Peak Academy,” he continued.
“I am thrilled to report that the state of our city is stronger than ever before.”
But Hancock said the city needs to work harder to help “far too many residents” who have not felt the benefits of a strong economy.
He quoted President Franklin Roosevelt who once said: “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.””
“Everyone in Denver deserves the opportunity to share in this prosperity. This is our call to action,” Hancock said.
“This city will not rest until Denver’s success is shared by everyone.”
His administration, he said also is “laser focused” on preserving neighborhoods and keeping residents from being displaced by growth and development.
“We can have development without displacement, it does not have to be either-or,” the mayor said.
The administration knows where gentrification is occurring and is “working hard” to address it.
Neighborhoods that it is focusing on are primarily in the West, North and Northeast.
The city is working with non-profit partners such as Mile High United Way, Mile High Connects and the Denver Housing Authority.
“Together, we are devising short and long-term plans and seeking funding to lift up Sun Valley, Westwood, Villa Park and other West Denver neighborhoods,” Hancock said.
”We are doing the same in Globeville, Elyria, Swansea and Montebello. In the months ahead, we will be deploying teams into these neighborhoods with resources to help people stay in their homes and apartments and help local businesses keep their doors open,” Hancock said.
To that end, this week the city will “kick start” two economic opportunity zones in west-central and northeast Denver, the mayor announced.
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