Real-Estate Developers No-Shows at Affordable-Housing Meeting

At the second public meeting held to discuss the city’s proposed affordable-housing plan, the cafeteria at North High School was packed with over one hundred community members. Among them were various organizations, grouped together by their matching T-shirts to make their presence known. They included Denver Homeless Out Loud, Black Lives Matter 5280, and residents of north Denver wearing shirts that proclaimed, “Mi communidad no esta en venta” [My community is not for sale].

Absent from the meeting, at least in any visual or vocal capacity, were real-estate developers.

This was a stark contrast from a meeting of Denver City Council’s Safety and Well-Being Committee earlier this month, at which multiple developers – including Carl N. Koelbel – strongly criticized the way the city proposes to raise $150 million over ten years to construct upwards of 6,000 affordable-housing units.

At issue is how much the city will raise by taxing residents through property taxes, and how much it will draw from developers by implementing a fee on new projects.

During Thursday night’s meeting at North High School, there were moments when some of the rowdier attendees shouted pointed questions toward city officials or made sarcastic comments. One man asked, “Where are the developers?”

While everyone at the meeting seemed on board with working to provide more affordable housing, the conspicuous lack of developers voicing their side certainly affected polling data taken from those in attendance.

This was especially apparent when it came to asking how much developers should be responsible for raising the capital needed for implementing the plan.

Below, you can see a selection of the instant responses by those in attendance. The polling data was compiled using electronic remotes. 

A City Council subcommittee will consider the plan in August, followed by a public hearing on August 22 and City Council vote on August 29. 
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Chris Walker is a freelancer and former staff writer at Westword. Before moving to the Mile High City he spent two years bicycling across Eurasia, during which he wrote feature stories for VICE, NPR, Forbes, and The Atlantic. Read more of Chris's feature work and view his portfolio here.
Contact: Chris Walker