Supervised-Use Sites & the Opioid Crisis
Nationally, people are now more-likely to die from an opioid overdose than from a car crash. In Colorado, opioid-related deaths have tripled in the past fifteen years, and Denver’s rates of opioid- related deaths are markedly higher than that of the rest of the state. Last year, Denver City Council authorized a pilot supervised-use site, which would provide a safe space with trained professionals and medical supplies for people who use drugs but aren’t yet in recovery. Such sites are proven to drastically reduce harm and prevent death by overdose. They provide a pathway to recovery and there has been a positive association between using a supervised use site and starting in addiction treatment.
Do you support the continuance of the city’s plan to open a supervised use site in Denver (pending state legislation)?
In addition to your support or opposition of supervised use sites, what are your plans to address the opioid crisis in Denver?
I voted to support the pilot. There are a lot of details that would have to be worked out, clear metrics to measure the success or failure of the pilot, and a lot of community engagement before a location could be chosen for the pilot, but if these issues can be resolved, then I continue to be supportive of a pilot site.
When people are accused of a crime, they often spend extraordinary amounts of time in jail because they are not able to afford and quickly pay even low amounts of bail. The longer a person sits behind bars, the higher their chance of experiencing physical and mental health issues due to inadequate care is. Additional consequences can include loss of employment and/or housing. The bond industry further exacerbates the health effects of the cash bail system by exploiting low-income people and people of color, adding stress and fear to an already difficult situation, and worsening the inequitable negative mental and physical health outcomes of the accused.
Do you support ending cash bail in Denver? Why or why not?
What other policies would you pursue to reduce the detrimental health effects of the existing criminal justice system?
Honestly, this is not an issue that I know a lot about, but I am generally supportive of anything that reduces incarceration time and provides better mental health services to those in need. Generally I think I would be supportive of this, but would need to learn more.
Tobacco & E-Cigarettes
Colorado’s kids use e-cigarettes at twice the national rate and 91,000 of our youth will die prematurely from the health effects of tobacco. Annual health care costs in our state from the effects of smoking are $1.89 billion. Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disability in Denver. There are a number of proven ways to stem the tobacco and e-cigarette crisis: licensure of tobacco and e-cigarette sales, increasing taxes on those products, and raising the age of purchase to 21 are some the most effective.
Do you support raising the age of purchase to 21 for cigarettes and other tobacco products such as chewing tobacco?
Do you support enacting licensure requirements and increasing the taxes on tobacco and nicotine products for the city of Denver?
Mental Health Care
The need for improved mental and behavioral health care in our city is vast: 20 percent of Denverites deal with a daily mental health or addiction issue. In Colorado, suicide is the leading cause of death for those between the ages of 10 and 24 and 1-in-8 Denver Public School students have seriously thought about suicide. Currently, only 40 percent of people with daily mental health or addiction issues receive adequate care. Recognizing the severity of the issue, Denver voters in 2018 overwhelmingly passed Initiated Ordinance 301, also known as Caring 4 Denver. The 0.25 percent sales tax will fund mental health services, facilities, suicide prevention, opioid and substance use prevention, first-responder training, and more.
A to-be-determined nonprofit organization will be administering the Caring 4 Denver funds. How would you prioritize utilizing the funds to address mental and behavioral health and addiction needs in the city of Denver? What can the city do beyond Caring 4 Denver to address these issues?
A very smart group of people put together the Caring for Denver initiative, and they are working hard no to stand up the nonprofit to administer the funds. I would defer to them on how to best deploy these resources, and I think we need to allow them to get going in order to re-look at where gaps remain and how to fund those gaps. This is a critical issue and I fully support efforts to address this.
Individuals Experiencing Homelessness
In Denver, the number of individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness between 2015 and 2018 has increased 58 percent – from 827 to 1,308 people. Unsheltered means persons not in places meant for habitation, i.e. streets, bridges, abandoned buildings, and outdoor camps. Moreover, 30 percent of the Metro Denver homeless population reported experiencing chronic homelessness. The City of Denver is seeking solutions to assist individuals experiencing homelessness in our community that strike the right balance between housing options, shelters, and resources for these individuals to transition into a stable environment long-term.
How do we best serve the needs of people who are experiencing homelessness in Denver?
What specific policies would you pursue and/or ordinances would you modify?
There is a wide diversity of needs of individuals experiencing homelessness in Denver and a wide diversity of circumstances that have led to them being in that situation. We need to have policies and resources that do not treat all people experiencing homelessness the same and are responsive to their individual needs. We need more and better resources to address mental health and addiction, we need better shelter options that work for everyone including couples, people with pets, youth, and our LGBTQ communities. I would continue to invest in overhauling our shelters so they feel safe for everyone, I would fight to expand our co-responder program, the Denver Day Works program, and our homeless outreach team. We also need to continue to aggressively fund affordable housing options that extend down to 0-30% AMI and grow initiatives like the social impact bond program.
Colorado is facing disproportionate effects of climate change. Here in Denver, we are seeing substantial increases in the number of days each year topping 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Those temperatures exacerbate illnesses like asthma and cardiovascular disease, cause earlier snow melt, increase ozone pollution, and worsen long-standing water supply problems. The city has created the 80×50 Climate Action Plan, which highlights key strategies in the three sectors most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions in the city: buildings, transportation, and electricity generation. Denver’s long-term greenhouse gas reduction goal is to reduce emissions 80 percent below 2005 baselines levels by 2050. Today, many clean energy technologies, such as wind, solar, and battery storage, are available.
Do you support the city’s 80×50 Climate Action Plan?
What additional policies or practices should be implemented to protect our air, water, and the public’s health?
Yes, and we need to continue to take real and measurable steps toward electrification of our transportation systems, reach our 100% renewable energy goals, drastically improve our landfill diversion rates, meet our goal for the South Platte River to be swimmable and fishable, invest in infrastructure that prevents trash from entering our waterways through the storm drains, and so much more!
I stand with Healthier Denver and pledge to hold my elected officials accountable for prioritizing my health and the health of my neighbors.
By submitting your cell phone number you are agreeing to receive periodic text messages. Text HELP for more information. Text STOP to stop receiving messages.