One year after INK! Coffee gentrification controversy

DENVER -- It has been one year since INK! Coffee went viral for a marketing campaign that seemed to brag about gentrifying Denver's RINO neighborhood.

The sign outside the coffee shop read "Happily gentrifying the neighborhood since 2014."

The controversy sparked protests and call for a change in city policies. INK! apologized shortly after the sign went viral.

"It was a bunch of outrage and a lot of people were broken hearted," Tay Anderson, a Denver activist who rallied supporters one year ago, said.

"In reality it [gentrification] has pushed Black and Brown and Latinos and poor white people out of their communities," Anderson added.

FOX31 wanted to know what has changed in the city since the controversy.

Turns out this controversy did not last a few days or a few weeks -- in July Denver Mayor Michael Hancock discussed the coffee controversy at length during his State of the City address.

"It was one of the most disappointing and painful moments that I have ever experienced in the city," Hancock said.

As a result Denver created a new program -- NEST -- which is already holding meetings.

NEST stands for Denver's Neighborhood Equity and Stabilization Team. 

State Senator Irene Aguilar has been appointed executive director.

The purpose of the organization is to help residents of neighborhoods feeling threatened to move - as well as to prevent new neighborhood makeovers from displacing longtime residents.

"We meet every other week this group of stakeholders so we are in front of things before they happen," Grace Lopez Ramirez, the executive director of Denver's Neighborhood Engagement Office, said.

In addition the city has doubled its Affordable Housing Fund in the past year.

Anderson believes the changes have been a positive -- but more needs to be done.

"I'd like to see more action," Anderson said -- commenting on how the protests brought a net positive.

Anderson says this is likely not the end of the INK! Coffee sign -- it will likely be used as a symbol during the 2019 mayoral elections.

"I think that is going to push the 2019 elections forward," Anderson said.

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