“In the first six months of this year, recreational income from cannabis totaled over $253 million in Colorado. Denver, which has housed regulated marijuana operations since 2009, when Colorado codified its medical marijuana practices and nearby cities said no to cannabis business in their jurisdictions, now hosts around 4.5 million square feet of marijuana grow space in its industrially zoned areas.
The city plans to use most of its weed tax revenue on enforcement and drug education efforts. The effects of the green growth on housing, however, have been nothing short of controversial: Few can agree on the cumulative effects of legal cannabis on community and city development. But Denver residents are solid on one thing—that the rent is too damn high.
The city, for its part, is finally taking measures to protect affordable housing, although some say it’s too little, too late. In mid-September, Denver’s City Council voted through another measure to preserve rapidly disappearing affordable housing —the city will now require owners of affordable units to give at least a year’s notice if they plan to convert their property to market rate rentals or sell it. This means that the city will have more time to negotiate or raise funds to buy properties, ostensibly keeping them as affordable units instead of market-rate ones.
This latest measure is part of Michael Mayor Hancock’s affordable housing strategy, which seeks a steady revenue stream of $15 million a year to subsidize building new affordable units. Affordable housing is usually defined as income-qualified housing available to people who make less than 80 percent of the area median income. In Denver, 80 percent of area median income (AMI) is $43,000 per year. Together, this indicates that Hancock’s plan is meant to serve middle income folks—not to preserve or expand housing for people in poverty.”
Milkman, Arielle. New Republic 12 October 2015.