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Denver poll explores homelessness, safety and city leaders

By meerna Jul10,2024
Denver poll explores homelessness, safety and city leaders

We live in large families with a strip that divides part of the second home, the townhouses (its name is in English), in the Jefferson Park area. June 5, 2022. Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

More and more Denver residents say their city is better off now than it was in August 2023.

Nearly three-quarters of Denver residents say they feel safe in the city — a number that has increased over the past year.

Most residents are not particularly concerned about the revitalization of downtown Denver, with 55 percent of them not considering it a priority.

Residents continue to be concerned about homelessness, lack of affordable housing and crime.

All this information comes from a bipartisan poll conducted by the nonprofit Colorado Polling Institute among 409 registered voters in Denver.

The Institute regularly surveys residents to track changes in voters’ perceptions of the city, its leaders and pressing issues.

The Democratic firm Aspect Strategic and the Republican firm New Bridge Strategy conducted the poll. The firms surveyed participants by phone and online from June 13 to 18. The poll has a margin of error of just under 5 percent.

Most residents value city services and do not mind paying for them.

Still, 35 percent of the public says Denver’s taxes are “way too high.”

Another 29 percent said they were “high but acceptable.” And 35 percent said they were “just right” or “lower than expected.”

For the first time, the Colorado Polling Institute is asking about attitudes toward taxation. The questions come months before the November election, when Denver voters are likely to consider two sales-tax increases.

One, already on the ballot, asks for more funding for Denver Health. The other, moving through the City Council, would fund the creation of 44,000 new units of public housing.

As Lori Weigel of New Bridge Strategy said, raising taxes is no longer popular across the state.

It’s unclear how that will translate in Denver, where voters have raised sales taxes by more than 30 percent in the past few years.

Despite this, 65 percent of those surveyed are satisfied with the services offered by their local government and fully accept Denver as a place to live.

What do people think about their leaders?

Mayor Mike Johnston’s approval rating rose to 48 percent.

The number of people who were unsure about his performance fell, while the number who did not accept his leadership rose to 11 percent.

Of those who think Johnston is doing a good job, 42 percent say he is doing a good job of addressing homelessness, while 18 percent say he is taking action and trying to keep promises.

“Mayor Johnston came into office amidst significant voter concern about homelessness, crime and the cost of living in the city, and his first year was further complicated by the influx of migrants from Central and South America,” Weigel said. “Against that backdrop, his popularity has increased slightly, and voters feel — albeit slightly — that progress has been made.”

The public perception of the Denver School Board is overwhelmingly negative, but there has been some improvement over the past year.

Meanwhile, while support for the Denver Police Department has declined somewhat, it has remained generally stable.

What people like — and hate — about Denver.

For Denver lovers, here’s a rundown of the top reasons to love this city: weather, cultural attractions and activities, friendly/nice people, proximity to mountains, beauty, city parks, and outdoor activities.

The main concerns of those who have an unfavorable opinion of the city: drugs, crime and lack of safety; cost of living; homelessness and camps; housing costs; illegal immigration; roads and infrastructure; environmental, litter and pollution issues; overcrowding; high taxes; and lack of funding and training for the police.

Residents across the city are struggling with financial problems, with tenants being more affected than property owners.

A total of 89 percent of renters say they are experiencing financial problems, compared with just 45 percent of homeowners.

While many believe housing affordability is a serious issue, the economy as a whole is perceived to be much better than it was 20 years ago.

New Denver residents have a more favorable attitude toward the city than those who have lived here for more than 10 years.

“On the one hand, most voters believe Denver is a good, safe place to live with acceptable tax levels and decent city services,” said Kevin Ingham of Aspect Strategic. “But despite largely positive personal experiences, many also see ongoing challenges that aren’t seen as unique to Denver but nonetheless raise some concerns about the city’s direction.”

By meerna

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