By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver
(Denver, Colo.) The Denver City Council has forwarded its 2024 budget priorities to the mayor’s office, and they include everything from housing for people experiencing homelessness, including migrants, to an expansion of the STAR program, or Support Team Assisted Response.
The council submitted proposals in several budget areas, including:
Migrant support must continue
The council put into writing that resources must continue to be provided to migrants coming to Denver from Venezuela and other countries. . “We know that this year was one that stretched the city financially, and we applaud the city’s efforts to ensure migrants arriving from the border were not left to fend for themselves,” City Council President Jamie Torres said. “We know this upcoming budget year will be focused on balancing a planned effort to support that response, and continued support of ensuring an inclusive and sustainable economy, resolving housing and homelessness issues, and providing safety and well-being for residents and neighborhoods.”
Improving community engagement and customer service
Focusing on improving community engagement and customer service to support
residents navigating city services, resources, and accessibility, including language access. This could include creating an Office of Community Engagement. The council also wants to improve the 311 system. Finally, the body wants to expand the participatory budgeting processes and include funds from capital and non-capital sources to allow for a broader range of one-time projects, such as art and program infusions, that may not meet the technical definition of "capital."
Supporting people experiencing homelessness
Increasing affordable housing and supporting those experiencing homelessness throughout our city. Mitigate and reduce the involuntary displacement of community members. “Ensure access to a full range of supportive services, including community navigators, for all pathways out of homelessness for those in shelters or temporary managed communities, those contacted through street outreach, and those transitioning to permanent housing,” the council specified. “Expand funding and explore new sustainable annual sources of revenue for rental assistance, single-family housing rehabilitation and repair, tenant-landlord counseling, and other eviction and foreclosure defense and prevention services including but not limited to legal assistance and mediation.”
Strengthening public safety
Strengthening community safety, decreasing youth violence, and fostering healthy families by
investing in community-supported, data-driven, and anti-racist public health strategies. Addressing root causes and implementing interventions that ensure appropriate resources are allocated to the most suitable responders. De-escalation and race sensitivity training. “Increase funding for positive youth development with community-based organizations to include violence prevention, childcare, year-round employment, and mental health support,” the council specified. “Allocate resources toward the expansion of mental health, wellness, and recovery services, addressing critical areas such as provider shortages, service gaps, and programs that effectively tackle trauma and culturally competent needs. Broaden treatment options across the entire spectrum, including peer support, outpatient facilities, and inpatient care to enhance resident access to timely recovery and care services. Increase funding for Support Team Assistance Response, or STAR program.”
Supporting a robust infrastructure within our city and a strong network of partners throughout the community to sustain a thriving workforce, a flourishing local business sector, and a resilient network of community organizations upon which our community relies. The council wants “funding for small business assistance, including additional pop-up business funds for commercial areas in small commercial corridors, business improvement districts, and creative districts throughout the city.”
Protecting the environment
Protecting the environment through policy, public education, and investment in communities to combat climate change. The council wants funding for tree canopy expansion and maintenance, for removing bluegrass lawns in favor of xeriscape and for community renewable and energy efficiency programs. The council also wants money to improve the electric vehicle infrastructure and continue to fund e-bicycle rebates.
Improve transportation connections
Increasing complete, safe, and predictable multimodal transportation connections
throughout the city including community outreach and education about these transportation options. The council wants funding for neighborhood safety infrastructure “with an eye to Vision Zero, including sidewalks, bike lane expansion, infrastructure for Safe Routes to School, construction and maintenance of roadway medians and other right-of-way structures — including the transition to indigenous vegetation where appropriate — and the upgrade and maintenance of multimodal transportation.” The council also wants money for speed reduction in residential areas throughout the city.”
Council members formulated the list during their May 12 budget retreat at Raices Brewing Company in the La Alma/Lincoln Park neighborhood.