RTD Board of Directors adopts agency’s new strategic plan
the Regional Transportation District (RTD)’s Board of Directors adopted a new strategic plan that looks toward the next five years of the agency’s future. The document – against which all initiatives, projects and priorities will be measured – serves as a blueprint for success and outlines the intentionality RTD will bring with its redefined mission: “We make lives better through connections.”
The strategic plan was developed by General Manager and CEO Debra A. Johnson and RTD’s executive leadership team in concert with the agency’s 15-member Board of Directors. It establishes four strategic priorities – community value, customer excellence, employee ownership and financial success – that serve as functional pillars to plan, develop, evaluate and measure RTD’s overall performance.
Denver Leads the Nation in Breaking the Homelessness-Jail Cycle
After five years, the innovative Denver Supportive Housing Social Impact Bond (SIB) has proven that investing in housing with intensive supportive services can break the homelessness-jail cycle, which—due to systemically racist laws and enforcement—disproportionately harms Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. This initiative centered the needs of people experiencing chronic homelessness by devoting resources to housing and intensive supports, in turn reducing chronically homeless individuals’ interactions with high-cost public systems including emergency services and jail. As the Denver SIB draws to a close, evaluators at the Urban Institute have deemed the program a “remarkable success.”
How Denver Tackled Homelessness While Saving Money
The program, which provides what’s known as permanent supportive housing, has housed over 280 struggling people since 2016 and reduced city spending on police, jail, ambulance and detox services, found a July study by the Urban Institute, a left-leaning Washington, D.C., think tank.
Denver Reduces Parking Requirements for Affordable Housing
“Among other things, the just-updated code lowers the ‘affordable housing alternative minimum parking ratio’ for affordable housing projects in any district to 0.1, or one spot for every 10 units. It also upped the applicable AMI from 40 percent to 60 percent to encompass more housing.”The update comes as an acknowledgement of the pivotal role parking requirements play in housing affordability and the vast number of unused parking spaces in the city’s housing developments. A December 2020 study found that income-restricted properties provide, on average, “50 percent more parking than residents use.” Another audit of affordable and supportive housing in the city found that “Denver’s zoning code required 5.5 times more parking than was needed.”
Converting Unused Parking Garages to Affordable Housing
But some operators found creative ways to generate revenue: during the pandemic, “[s]ome garages were transformed into outside dining areas or makeshift drive-in movie theaters, while others were used to house pop-up warehouses, storage units and parking for Amazon delivery fleets.” Another useful conversion: affordable housing. “[E]nterprising operators are now lobbying planning and zoning boards in cities around the country to relax restrictions so that they can retrofit their under-used garages to provide affordable living space for families.”
Denver’s first overnight ‘safe parking’ site OK’d; reservations required
First Universalist Church of Denver has been authorized to host the city’s first overnight “safe parking” site for people sleeping in their vehicles, but those who want to stay there must first be approved by a partner organization. Colorado Safe Parking Initiative, which is working with the church at 4101 E. Hampden Ave. in University Hills, will decide who to allow to stay at the site. The organization will interview and conduct background checks of applicants before referring them to the church’s task force on homelessness.
Understanding Community Land Trusts
For CLT homeowners, this means getting a below-market price on a home (land can account for 20 to 50 percent of a house’s price, depending on location) and getting support from the CLT to stay a homeowner. They get a 99-year renewable, inheritable lease on the land, so their tenure is just as secure as a typical homeowner’s. In exchange, they agree to restrictions on how much they can resell the property for, according to a formula that will let them build some equity but will also keep the home affordable for others of the same income level.
Bad office buildings make good residential spaces
Perhaps counterintuitively, we found that the worse the office building the better candidate it is for conversion to residential. Class C buildings – those offering rents below the market average – typically have 11-foot floor-to-floor heights (eight feet or seven feet six inches clear once you factor in the ducts and cabling that run through). This creates more generous ceiling heights than many new-build residential towers, allowing for lots of light and spacious-feeling apartments.
Minneapolis to resurrect rooming houses to offer low-cost housing option
Minneapolis is bringing back rooming houses to ease the city’s housing shortage problems and help stabilize people who are homeless or on the brink of it. The City Council last week approved a new ordinance that will make it legal to build single-room dwellings with shared bathrooms and kitchens.
Why China Could Be Serious About a Property Tax Now
Private home ownership in China only began in 1998, yet prices have skyrocketed so much that a place to call their own is becoming increasing unaffordable for many people. The government has tried for years to address the problem by going after speculators. Now, amid a broad effort by President Xi Jinping to address widening social inequality, authorities are revisiting an idea long-discussed but never realized: imposing a property tax. If implemented, such a tax could have far-reaching implications for the country’s 300 million-strong middle class.