DENVER (KDVR) — Denver Mayor Mike Johnston said he is making “quick and significant” progress as he marks his first 100 days in office. But there are questions about the strides he’s making.
On the mayor’s 100th day in office, he pointed to a second encampment at 21st and Curtis streets that is in the process of being closed. Some 50 people living on the streets at that location, the mayor said, will eventually move indoors and into safer locations.
It’s part of the mayor’s goal to move 1,000 homeless people into transitional housing by the end of the year. But so far, only 183 people have been placed into housing through the so-called House1000 initiative.
Still, Johnston said he is confident the goal will be reached.
“If you are going to take an open acre plot of land, put electricity on it, put water into it, put 40 or 50 tiny homes on it, be able to put a community building on it, that only takes three or four or five months’ construction timeline,” Johnston said.
Mayor faces influx in migrant arrivals
The mayor is also now trying to figure out how to deal with an influx of immigrants.
“Our biggest priority for our immigrant arrivals is to help connect them to work. So we have been advocating at the federal level to increase access to work authorization to let people work,” Johnston said.
The mayor has also been taking tough questions about not providing enough rental assistance in his proposed budget. Some council members say more funds are needed.
“We have a shared commitment that rental assistance is important. That’s why in my budget, we put in a 500% expansion of what we did for rental assistance last year in the city,” Johnston said.
The mayor said the problem is the city lost federal assistance dollars.
Johnston also said his administration plans are to house another 1,000 people next year in Denver.
For now, Johnston believes getting 1,000 people off the streets will help revive places like the 16th Street Mall and lower crime there.
All the while, he said he will continue trying to make sure there’s rental assistance available to keep people in their homes.