District 8 – Healthier Denver

District 8

Christopher Herndon

Christopher Herndon

Running for: District 8 (incumbent)
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 do support the continuation of the city’s plan. We need to provide more programs to help citizens dealing with opioid addiction and the tools they need to get better. I will work with all key stakeholders to help find the best solutions to the unique problems Denver faces.

Cash Bail

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?

One of the alternatives to a cash bail is an assessment based system that passed in other municipalities. I am open to exploring alternatives to the current system.

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 enacting licensure requirements and increasing the taxes on tobacco and nicotine products for the city of Denver?

I would encourage the state legislature to consider raising the age at which tobacco and tobacco products can be purchased, but I believe that issue is best raised on a statewide basis rather than city-by-city. The city of Denver also needs to look at all available options to ensure the health of our youngest citizens, and I would like to learn more about what Healthier Denver believes is the best solution to address the problem.

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?

Initiative 301 created a 13-person panel to administer the funds in the best way possible to help the people of Denver, and I will defer to this panel on deciding how to do that. I also support the expansion of mental and behavioral health services. I would love to see the Dahlia Campus for Health and Well-Being replicated to other parts of the city.

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 bet serve the needs of people who are experiencing homelessness in Denver? What specific policies would you pursue and/or ordinances would you modify?

I have supported and will continue to support increased services to assist people experiencing homelessness in Denver. That includes increasing the number of beds in our shelters and working with community leaders to provide transition services. Ultimately, in order to serve the people who are experiencing homelessness we need to ensure each part of the city has affordable housing options for families, seniors and veterans.

Climate Change

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?

I support the 80×50 Climate Action Plan that Denver has proposed, and it is imperative that we protect our natural resources and public health.

Miguel Ceballos-Ruiz

Miguel Ceballos-Ruiz

Running for: District 8
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?

 

Yes, I do support the push for a supervised use site because we must use every approach possible to help prevent opioid related deaths and prevent the spread of HIV and other diseases spread by the use of infected needles. Criminalization is not the right approach to decreasing drug use. I would pursue a “housing first” approach for people with addictions trying to step away from homelessness.

 

Cash Bail

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?

I have personally been affected by our cash bail system, my mental and physical health were greatly impacted. Once, I even spend a night in jail for not appearing in court when my dog got out, I could not post bail because I had no money. I  have been vocal about how unjust our cash bail system is. I am in favor of ending cash bail in Denver and have put this on my literature!

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?

I am open to this idea and would love to consider getting behind it if it is done in the right way. I do not think that charging people with crimes will reduce use of tobacco. I can also see that those who would receive these citations are more likely to be people of color. If the enforcement is on the point of sale not the smoker, I am for increasing the smoking age to 21.

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?

In my community of Montbello, there is no facility dedicated to mental health. It is a clear and pressing need in my community. We need one. Any organization that gets the Caring 4 Denver funds must have a serious presence in Montbello. I had group therapy when I was a young adult for over a year,  and it worked wonders for me, but it was really hard getting to where it was provided. Community rooms in libraries can be a good place to get mental health group therapy and other services to our community. Identifying the need for someone to seek mental health is another area where we can do better as a city. I would see if it is possible for Department of Human Services employees to ask clients seeking food assistance and other programs, if they would like information on mental health services, just like they ask if you want to register to vote a client would sign to opt-out of getting information.

 

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?

Housing-first policies have proven to work best in cities like Salt Lake, and they would work best here. We must overturn the camping ban and stop criminalizing homelessness. We should also build more public housing, provide more housing for vouchers, and directly subsidise rent or mortgage payments residents in risk of becoming homeless. Any foreclosed home should be earmarked as an affordable housing unit in perpetuity. I will pursue, in essence, affirmative action policies in housing to ensure equity in determining who gets into our new affordable housing units.

 

Climate Change

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?

We should divest from fossil fuel stocks, create a public bank, and ban fracking in Denver.

Erik Penn

Erik Penn

Running for: District 8
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 support the implementation of supervised use sites. As stated, the evidence shows that this is a model that can help people. I believe in evidence based models and at tackling our root causes. Supervised use sites help guide people to addiction treatment while preventing harm related to overdoses and keep drug use off streets.

The opioid crisis is multifaceted and requires a systematic approach to implementing a solution. We need a process and programming that focuses on nonopioid pain management planning, addressing stigma, monitoring transitions of care and safeguarding against diversion of pills for illicit purposes along with increasing treatment options, patient, family, and caregiver education, clinician education on prescribing practices, and collaborating with communities tied in with advocacy and policy changes at municipal, state, and federal level. I intend to advocate for these system needs and the wellbeing of our residents to combat this epidemic.

Cash Bail

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?

60 percent of people housed in jails nationwide are there because they are awaiting their day in court, not because they have been found guilty of a crime. With jail overcrowding and multimillion dollar settlements for the mistreatment of jail detainees, we must make a change. This is a travesty to the American ideal of innocent until proven guilty and with such life altering effects such as loss of employment, loss of housing, and increased risk of physical and mental health issues, we must move towards ending cash bail. Cash bail does not increase community safety and poses adverse risks to those who have been charged. The only determination of a person walking free pre-trial is their access to resources and this is an inequitable system we must end.

I intend to pursue increased training for our criminal justice employees as well as devoting more resources to those incarcerated in the county jail including addiction treatment, financial coaching and employment training, and mental health treatment. Jails should serve as a means of rehabilitation and treatment. Using them purely as punishment has not been shown to lower recidivism or prevent crimes.

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?

I do support raising the age of tobacco products to 21 as well as increasing taxes on tobacco and nicotine products. I would need more time to research the effects, means and purpose of licensure requirements but I believe in using an arsenal of evidence based programs to lower our tobacco use and stymie the health effects of tobacco. I am also proud to work at Children’s Hospital Colorado and striving to add e-cigarettes and vaping prohibition to the indoor clean air act.

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?

Having worked for many years in mental health including my current position with the Pediatric Mental Health Institute at Children’s Hospital Colorado, mental health care holds a special place to me. I believe in prioritizing a portion of funds to go to pediatric and youth services. The sooner we can provider services and remove stigma from mental health conditions the better outcomes become. I will work to ensure that the new facility center for mental health and substance abuse diversion funded by this initiative is not simply treated as a mini-jail but that we provide services and meet our residents-in-crisis’ needs. The city can also work closer with our schools and with our community service providers to ensure mental health screenings and treatment are more timely and accessible. I want to see these funds reach populations that have historically been left out of the conversation on behavioral health issues and create community based solutions.

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?

The best option for tackling homelessness is by providing housing for those without it. Housing first programs work in helping stabilize families and provide an avenue to upward mobility inclusive of employment and access to health services. We have to stop the trend of fighting against unique and affordable housing options of all sizes along the spectrum and start developing an environment, a city, in which all people can live and afford a decent lived experience. I do not support the camping ban that criminalizes homelessness and believe it does not address our root cause of homelessness in this city which includes a mix of health concerns, life events, and Denver’s affordability. I will push for more shelter space across the city including in new developments along with pursuing more affordable housing funds for both renters and buyers. We need to fund more on the street services as well that help those who cannot or will not find structured housing to have access to human needs such as showers and bathrooms as well as securing fundamental documents, training, and health care services.

Climate Change

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?

I support Denver’s 80×50 Climate Action Plan. I believe that green energy presents us with solutions to our energy problems that were not available years ago that will lead us to changing the way we think about infrastructure within the city. I intend to study more the ability to integrate solar power generation into buildings, roads, and sidewalks along with integrating wind and hydro mills into the city scape to localize energy generation and deter our reliance on larger fossil fuel plants. I want to see an increase in our utilization of green space and technology to filter waste and storm water and increase our tree canopy to help fight our heat island effect. I will push for green vehicle usage not only by Denver’s fleet vehicles but work in partnership with DPS and RTD to usher in green vehicle use among their fleets as well.

Blair Taylor

Blair Taylor

Running for: District 8
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?

The city needs to address the opioid crisis, yes. A supervised site must be paired with wrap around treatment services, as well as the expansion of Denver Health’s Addiction program. We need to ensure we have a comprehensive plan in place to support the long-term health of the clients. We will to need to collect data at the site, ensure it has enough in-house staff, plan for additional follow-up care and services like therapy and partnering with other agencies. The 2A funding will help expand these programs.

Cash Bail

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?

Yes, I support ending cash bail. We could look at the option of doing a “risk-based” analysis of the people committing or suspected of a crime to determine appropriate bail, like California’s Senate Bill 10. There are other criminal justice reform changes we are moving towards including increasing the power of the Independent Monitor over the Sheriff and DPD, and the new Use of Force policy to update how situations are handles and the responsibility of the officers.

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?

Yes and yes.

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?

Create a comprehensive program for opioid abuse in conjunction the injection site, including long-term medical treatment and therapy

Increase resources for the DPD Co-Responder Ride Along program

Expand EMT pilot program downtown, currently there is 1 operating unit with the goal of 3

Fund additional Denver Health’s Addiction Services programs

Implement mental health support in schools ie. drug/alcohol abuse, bullying

Veteran Services

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?

Require a higher linkage fee, right now it is disproportionate to the value of price/sf of real estate. Require concurrent affordable build-out either through land trust organizations or within development. Identify additional land for social housing programs. 60% of the homeless population has some work. We need low-income and worker housing that ranges between $300-500/month. More than 80% of workers live pay check to paycheck and we cannot expect this population to have additional money down for payments. Update current housing policies preventing those people with vouchers from qualifying.

Climate Change

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?

There are more than 550 acres slated for development west of i25. We need to ensure that the new development adheres to the Climate Action Plan and reduces its potential for greenhouse gas emissions. Any new public buses or city vehicles should be electric. We can lead by example in our city and state. We also need to ensure that we have safe and continuous connectivity across our city for pedestrians and cyclists. People will not get out of their cars if they do not feel safe or are not incentivized. Exploring options of recycled water and increasing our tree canopy in neighborhoods that have low coverage is an important and low-investment goal. Let’s revisit the i70 reroute in order to prevent further polluting of 80216 and investing in a boulevard. Denver is full of brilliant creators, we need to make our mark as a city for technology and advanced green energy by moving away from fossil fuels and retrain our work force through apprenticeship programs.

Patrick Floyd Thibault

Patrick Floyd Thibault

Running for: District 8
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 have lost an uncle to a heroin overdose, so this topic hits close to home. I am trained to administer Narcan. Yes, I am in favor of supervised use sites in Denver. I would like to see supervised use sites models that can support the whole individual by providing access to mental health, human services, and workforce development supports. 

Cash Bail

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?

I am in support of ending cash bail. The criteria for who should get out of jail pretrial should be based on who poses a threat to the community, not how much money a person has, i.e. a homeless person who has a $100 bond for a simple possession case may remain in jail for months if they do not have the money for bail. Going to jail results in many people having a lapse in their medications, missing their jobs and getting fired, missing community-based treatment like AA and therapy, and being away from their support systems, losing their cars and housing due to missed payment. Most defendants are eventually re-released into the community, so when they are released is such a drastically worse position, they are more likely to recidivate, not less. We need to support specialty court models and support community-based organizations in a restorative justice process that keeps people from entering the system.

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?

Yes.

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?

I would like to see funding used to improve case management and improve the data sharing between agencies. We need to create better temporary and permanent supportive housing models that not only provide safe and sustainable housing, but also connect our under served populations with supportive services.

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?

 I would seek to repeal the Urban Camping ordinance. We can’t have our city jails be the most accessible mental health resource for our most vulnerable communities. We need to create better temporary and permanent supportive housing. We can create housing models that creates safe and sustainable housing for our most vulnerable populations as well has connecting them to supportive services and workforce opportunities.

Climate Change

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?

I support the efforts of the 80×50 plan. We need to improve access to recycling and composting to all our Denver residents. I will work to improve recycling requirements for multi-unit residential options and businesses. We need to continue to improve our neighborhood connectivity and accessibility. I will work to improve our first and last mile travel. We need to decrease our dependency our single occupant car use for our transportation needs. We need neighborhood infrastructure that supports multi-modal options throughout the district.

HEALTHIER DENVER

1536 WYNKOOP ST, SUITE 224

DENVER, CO 80202

720.515.3206

INFO@HEALTHIERCOLORADO.ORG

 

                  

 

A PROJECT OF HEALTHIER COLORADO

POWERED BY  

JOIN OUR MOVEMENT

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.