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Denver voters to decide if group living ordinance should be repealed

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DENVER (KDVR) — Monday was the first day voting centers opened for people living in Denver to drop their ballots off in person.

Your local election headquarters is on it, explaining measures on the ballot for most people who have not turned theirs in yet. One of the measures is 2F, a referred question from Safe and Sound Denver.

Earlier this year, Denver City Council passed an ordinance, expanding the number of unrelated adults who can live together under one roof. Their goal was to help service settings like nursing homes and shelters, but opponents of the ordinance fear it has unintended consequences that could lead to a big shake up in the city’s landscape. So, they decided to put forward a referendum to repeal that option on this year’s ballot.

“Our council passed an ordinance in February called the group living ordinance to expand housing options to allow unrelated adults to share the cost of housing, to make it a little easier to do care for our seniors, for those with disabilities and others who need a little special help,” said Denver At-Large City and County Councilwoman Robin Kniech.

Supporters of the ordinance repeal worry people of Denver have not had enough time to look into what the ordinance does despite it passing council earlier this year. Some key changes include:

  • Allowing up to five unrelated adults to live together in one house, up from two before the ordinance passed.
  • Service buildings like homeless shelters and nursing homes are now regulated by their size rather than the services they offer.
  • It also expands the land available in the city for community corrections buildings, allowing them to access nearly 19,000 acres around the city.

Repeal supporters agree, the services are needed to help people get back on track but argue the city is going about it the wrong way.

“What the impact of that will be is an injection of instability because if you have a home in your neighborhood that is investor owned and now it’s going to be a small shelter or transitional housing, the impact to the neighborhood is going to be different than if people who didn’t need services were living there,” said Florence Sebern of Safe and Sound Denver.

Opponents of the repeal said the ordinance is all about expanding housing options.

“The group living ordinance in effect today does not allow community corrections for people coming from prison in any single family, duplex residential neighborhood. You are seeing the other side misrepresent what this measure is about to scare people into voting yes,” said Kniech.

If 2F gets enough “yes” votes, there would be a waiting period for city council to revisit the issue. Supporters said that would give council more time to come up with a better solution while opponents argue it could kick out people who moved into multi-family households earlier this year after it passed.

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