Denver is in line to see the construction of up to 6,000 new affordable homes between now and 2023.
But those numbers will only be reached, cautions Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, if the city is willing to increase its marijuana sales tax.
That tax is currently pegged at 3.5 percent and brings in around $15 million every year for affordable housing construction.
But Hancock is proposing upping the tax to 5.5 percent, a figure that he says could generate as much as $30 million annually.
“This proposal will deploy more funding quicker to support our residents and families without increasing costs on the very households we are trying to save,” said Hancock in a news release.
Colorado voters in 2012 approved a ballot question legalizing the selling of marijuana for recreational purposes. Since that passage, tax revenue from such sales has passed the $200 million mark.
Working with the Denver Housing Authority, Mayor Hancock said the upped marijuana tax will allow the DHA to issue up to $105 million in bonds for land acquisition and new housing construction, as well as the preservation of the city’s current affordable housing stock.
According to All in Denver, a community advocacy group, prices for housing units in the city rose 43 percent between 2012 and 2016. Additionally, more than 40 percent of the city’s homeless population are working but can’t afford a place to live.
Hancock’s proposal must win the final approval of the Denver City Council.
By Garry Boulard
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