“Growth must not only be smart, it must also be growth with equity and growth with justice. Our history is one of our most valuable assets, and it is irreplaceable. There is no equity if development does not embrace that asset and provide a community benefit. There is no justice if histories, cultures and families are lost. We must channel our successes and our resources to fortify our communities and stem displacement. Our focus must be on the people who make this city what it is, on their contributions, on their successes, and on their unbridled possibilities.”
– Mayor Michael Hancock
Michael B. Hancock is Denver’s 45th mayor, and second African American to hold this position. The Mayor’s public service began on Denver City Council, where he served for eight years, including two terms as City Council President. He previously worked for the Denver Housing Authority and National Civic League, and was the youngest President of an Urban League chapter in America. He received his B.A. from Hastings College, and MPA from the University of Colorado-Denver.
With the onset of COVID-19 hitting many U.S. cities, Mayor Hancock and his Administration quickly adapted the city’s budget to meet the needs of Denverites, especially the most vulnerable and often disproportionately impacted. The city’s administration secured millions of pieces of personal protective equipment for frontline workers, funded programs to assist residents pay for basic needs, including rent, utilities, mortgages, food and other shelter, and bulking up Denver’s response efforts for people experiencing homelessness. Denver has been able to mitigate displacement and eviction to stabilise people’s housing conditions through the Temporary Rental & Utility Assistance (TRUA Program), which provides financial assistance to those facing a housing crisis or hardship.
Nearly one-quarter of Denver’s residents live near or below the poverty line and have limited mobility options. To improve city mobility, Denver is using a Mobility Action Plan to collate data from many sensors—from intelligent traffic lights to air pollution sensors and connected vehicles—to gain a holistic view of city data, gather insights, and act on them to improve experiences for everyone. The system will help the city optimise travel times, prioritise emergency vehicles, make intersections safer and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As transportation represents nearly 30 percent of carbon emissions in Denver, the city’s administration has set ambitious objectives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.
The transversal nature of housing requires strong integration between sectoral policies, co-ordination across levels of government and co-operation with various stakeholders. Denver is working to address homelessness through the Social Impact Bond Program, an innovative financing performance-based tool whereby private and/or philanthropic lenders loan funds to provide housing and supportive services to homeless people and are reimbursed if the programme achieves its goals. For more information view the recording “Housing in Cities in the COVID-19 era” featuring Mayor Hancock.
Denver is mitigating job losses and protecting workers, especially in the industries hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, by supporting small and medium enterprises. Granting commercial rent and fiscal exemptions has emerged as one of the key drivers of successful responses in Denver to help SMEs overcome difficult circumstances. The Mayor established the Economic Relief and Recovery Council, an advisory group providing strategic recommendations to the Mayor and the City’s Executive Leadership on how to mitigate and prevent further negative impacts of COVID-19, as well as how to equitably accelerate future growth of the Denver economy and businesses. Mayor Hancock also launched the Small Business Emergency Fund, to ensure all businesses can recover from the pandemic, especially minority and women-owned businesses. For more information, view the recording of the Mayors panel “Setback for now, not forever: Recovering productivity in Cities” featuring Mayor Hancock.