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Denver Ballot Issue 2B Increase Sales Tax to Fund Sheltering Efforts

Referred Measure 2B: Increase Sales Tax to Fund Sheltering Efforts Title A bill for an ordinance increasing the sales and use tax by a rate of 0.25 percent and dedicating the revenue derived from the tax rate increase to fund housing, shelter, and services for persons experiencing or having exited homelessness.Background: Homelessness is a national crisis with many systemic and historical causes challenging all American cities. In Denver more than 4,000 people are unsheltered on any given day. This may understate the problem because some homeless people have temporary or otherwise unsatisfactory shelter. A survey conducted in early 2020 by the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, found an increase in homelessness of 6% from the previous year. The need for this measure was made clear by Denver voters’ opposition to Initiative 300, which would have overturned the city’s ban on urban camping, in Spring 2019. The public’s demand that Denver ‘do better’ on homelessness encouraged this current approach to easing homelessness. Denver is seeking innovative approaches using the additional funding proposed in this ordinance.Sales taxes and property taxes are the two sources of revenue most available to municipalities. Property tax was not proposed due to increasing valuations and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on business income.Major Provisions: Funds received from the sales tax increase, which will be spent on housing shelter, and other services, will be administered by Denver’s Department of Housing Stability (HOST) in accordance with systems in place for Denver’s Affordable Housing Fund. Public input and publicly available reports are required for investments. The oversight body will include three people with lived experience in homelessness, displacement, and affordable housing.Pre-COVID estimates suggested that the tax (2.5 cents on a $10 purchase) would raise $40,000,000. The total sales tax in Denver would be 8.56%.Housing measures would include building housing, expanding rental assistance, supportive services, more shelter beds, 24-hour shelter and drop in day services, mental health care, substance treatment, employment counseling. Attempts could be made to combine shelter or services in the same building which would provide more efficient use of land. More housing referrals and services for those living on the streets or in cars would be available. The funding will help sustain Denver‘s COVID response.Groups suffering from homelessness due to racial disparities and groups experiencing barriers will be better targeted with shelter and services.

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  • Yes - For the Measure

  • No - Against the Measure

Those in favor say: -This effort to assist those experiencing homelessness is supported by public, private, and nonprofit partners and the Denver downtown community.

-Sales taxes, though regressive, are the form of revenue most available to local governments in Colorado. Food, medicine, fuel, and sanitary supplies do not incur sales taxes, mitigating the effect on low income residents.

-These funds would help to sustain Denver’s COVID-19 emergency response.

Proponents: Downtown Denver Partnership, Enterprise Community Partners, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, Urban Peak
Those opposed say: -Sales taxes are regressive; the heaviest burden falls on those with the least income.

Opponents: Independence Institute cited the regressiveness of the sales tax, but has not taken a stand. has not taken a stand.