Housing Affordability
Safe, healthy, accessible, affordable housing is a human right. Yet a stable home has become a luxury many in Denver cannot afford. We need a bold, creative leader who will prioritize the needs of Denverites. Leslie will fight for resources to create truly affordable housing and end chronic homelessness, zoning reforms to prioritize fair housing and affordable homes for families, protections to stabilize tenants, and ways to expand permanent affordability, such as community land trusts. 

Housing affordability impacts everyone, and costs are quite simply out of control in Denver right now. We need a multi-pronged approach to this crisis that ensures that current renters and homeowners can afford to live here, while ensuring our unhoused neighbors have access to both housing and supports to help get them back on track.

Leslie has a bold vision that will combine smart urban planning with help for those struggling with mental health and addiction issues.

What This Means


An Urban Renaissance for Denver

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Under Leslie’s leadership Denver will embark upon an Urban Renaissance, a Denver where innovation and affordability thrives, launched via exciting new design and planning competitions where public, private partnerships form to facilitate attractive, healthy and sustainable built environments. As Mayor, Leslie will gain the people of Denver's support via shared community values, experienced together through the mutual creation of our social spaces throughout the city. Denver will no longer have neighborhoods where our fellow Denverites are deprived of economic investment, healthy and affordable housing options, high quality schools, nutritious food, and employment opportunities that pay a living wage. Our Denver Urban Renaissance will reward place making communities that prioritize walking, biking, and public transit in a safe - people centered construct. 

As Mayor, Leslie will redefine what a great American city can truly be. Embracing diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging by crafting a new social space, devoid of single-use districts focused only on one type of housing, commercial, parking lots or transit. Instead, she will help create a Denver where a synergistic set of uses comes together to serve Denverites most desired needs, where a vibrant mix of residential housing, of all types, commerce and leisure co-exist.  

Leslie will curate a new form of urban planning that includes an equitable public process that allows for the public to meaningfully participate in the development process at the origination point so that the tradeoffs required of the public planning process are weighed fairly. This process will form the basis for design and planning competitions where developers compete to create the type of communities that Denverites desire as housing development is a public task, of which the outcomes are to be owned by all.

A more efficient housing system

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Leslie will re-evaluate the city’s bureaucratic systems, from the top down, and cut out those processes that are no longer working for the city. 

Permitting delays in the city are at an all-time high. Not only does this mean that development is curtailed and slowed down, but it also disincentivizes creativity and innovation by developers. Leslie will re-invest in city employees to fill staffing shortages and get Denver moving again. 

Via executive order, Leslie will direct departments to take a hard look at permitting processes to determine how we can better prioritize housing that is affordable and meets the city’s needs. To expedite the process, the order will require that pending housing applications with all units at or below 120% of AMI receive final development approval within 90 days from the date of the order.

Use what we already have - A Social Housing Competition

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The City and County of Denver, Denver Public Schools, and RTD own the majority of the vacant lots in Denver. There is an enormous opportunity to immediately increase the housing supply in the city if we utilize this land. 

Within Leslie’s first six months in office, she will issue a RFP outlining the terms of Denver’s first ever Social Housing Competition, where developers, architects, general contractors and community members compete to create the foundation of our new housing renaissance - with the prize being a public, private partnership where the city provides the land and the winning team provides the vision and delivers the social housing we so desperately require. Empowered by an Executive Order allowing the designated site to explore new zoning and building code methodologies, the competition will act as a pilot demonstration of exactly what is possible when government, industry and the community join together to plan and develop the communities of our future - today. 

In addition, Leslie will immediately partner with existing providers like Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, the Village Collaborative, and Caring for Denver to provide temporary safe housing for those living on the streets now.

Zoning & Building Code Innovation

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As currently implemented, zoning can hinder progress toward achieving more inclusive communities, shared prosperity, better health, and stronger environmental protections. But when carefully designed and equitably implemented, zoning can help expand the supply of housing, increase housing affordability, and improve racial equity within a jurisdiction. Zoning can be a particularly effective tool when combined with incentives to develop subsidized housing and policies that discourage the displacement of people with low incomes. But zoning has limits: it defines allowed uses, but any change in a community also ultimately reflects the economy of the neighborhood and metropolitan area, which in turn determines whether developers are willing to invest. 

While no one zoning reform in a vacuum will solve our housing supply shortfall and subsequent affordability crisis, Leslie is committed to facilitating a city government of continuous improvement driven by a competition of ideas. Leslie envisions zoning codes that encourage “gentle density” empowered by pattern zoning, coupled with building code reforms that allow for smaller lot developments such as single point access stair buildings. 

Within Leslie’s first twelve months in office she will work with city council and all relevant stakeholders to introduce and pass a pattern zoning package to include single point access stair buildings.

Partner with the Middle Income Housing Authority &  Denver Public Schools

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Leslie demonstrated her pioneer spirit when she helped create the state’s first Middle Income Housing Authority, it’s only fitting that as Mayor, Denver would be one of the first cities in the state to partner with the entity. Let’s start by focusing on our educators. 

Via an MOU with the Middle Income Housing Authority, Denver Public Schools and The City of Denver, Leslie, working hand in hand with the Denver Public School Board, will transform to-be-closed DPS school sites into future Middle Income Housing Authority communities focused on workforce housing for educators, transforming divested school assets into thriving affordable homes.

Create Denver's First Office of Community Led Group Development

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Co-housing has been proven to provide significant societal benefits, such as reducing housing cost burden, loneliness and depression via mutually beneficial outcomes. Community led coalitions, co-ops and nonprofits understand how traditional housing development has failed them and demand a new opportunity that embraces their needs and wants. It’s long past time the City of Denver facilitates an environment where their ideas become reality, via the technical and financial support they require to flourish. 

As Mayor Leslie will create the office of community led, group housing development within HOST. This new office will be tasked with leading the development of Denver's first co-housing community led development within Leslie’s first term. This office will enable groups and individuals to be their own designer and developer via a zero profit model. To demonstrate the city's commitment to the significant benefits of community led group developments as Mayor, Leslie will dedicate 1% of HOST’s annual budget to kickstart  the office's first development project.

What Leslie has already done 

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  • HB20-1332 - Prohibit Housing Discrimination Source Of Income: This bill banned discrimination based on the source of a person’s income to the types of unlawful housing practices. This made it easier for folks who used public housing assistance to find housing. 
  • HB22-1389 - Financial Literacy Exchange Program: This bill created the Financial Literacy and Equity Exchange program.  People with DOH housing vouchers are now able to opt in to this program and build a FLEX agreement with the department. They have power in building those agreements and taking part in the program. The FLEX program creates escrow-like savings accounts for voucher-assisted people to increase their earned income. It also provides access to service providers for financial mentoring, life skills training, and asset management.
  • SB22-232 - Creation Of Colorado Workforce Housing Trust Authority: This bill created the Middle-Income Housing Authority to prioritize workforce housing for workers. Because more and more of our middle-income neighbors are struggling in Denver right now, and we need to provide supports so that more people don’t find themselves unhoused.
Image credit: 303 Magazine
Portrait of Peter LiFari
Leslie’s housing plan is just like her, equitable, transformational, actionable and ready to serve Denver on day one. I wholeheartedly endorse Leslie’s plan - which is unlike any I’ve seen from any American Mayor be they sitting or campaigning. Leslie is ready, Denver is ready, and this is the plan to facilitate the housing renaissance Denverites so desperately require.
Peter F. LiFari
CEO, Maiker Housing Partners
As someone who works across the housing and homeless continuum, I applaud Leslie's innovative approach to housing. In order to address our housing crisis and the need for Housing First models, we must look toward innovative solutions such as co-living initiatives and broadening our social housing options. Leslie's housing plan implements a community-driven, Housing First model, ensuring we aren't relying solely on new builds and Low Income Housing Tax Credit initiatives.

Our current housing system has failed to keep even our teachers and firefighters housed, and Metro Denver saw a 99% increase in first-time homelessness last year alone. Without innovative solutions like those seen in Leslie's plan, we cannot expect to see a decrease in homelessness, or a liveable city that allows everyone to flourish. This innovative plan demonstrates Leslie's proven ability to think outside of the traditional box to work toward bold but achievable outcomes that will have incredible social impact.
Dr. Kathleen Van Voorhis
CEO, Community Investment Alliance
Image credit: 303 Magazine
Portrait of Peter LiFari
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