Data on Denver Neighborhoods Raises Questions About Inequity in the City

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Posted Fri, Jun 16, 2017

Denver City Council

DENVER – A portion of Denver City Council met in April to discuss inequity throughout Denver, presented by the city’s Department of Environmental Health. The maps outline inequity across Denver’s neighborhoods, and much of the findings show that Denver’s west and southwest neighborhoods from Ruby Hill, to Lincoln Park to West Colfax are the most negatively impacted, as well as some of the northeast neighborhoods.

The data presented took five factors into account to determine inequity, which include education level, food access, access to health care, childhood obesity and mortality.

Councilman Paul Lopez

“When we look at equity, we’re looking at where the needs are most significant for the community,” said Michele Shimomura of the city’s Department of Environmental Health. “When we look at equality, that’s giving the same resources to make it equal through all the city.”

Baker, Barnum and Westwood were on the lower end of scores for Denver’s western neighborhoods, while Globeville, Park Hill and Montbello were the most negatively scored north and northeastern neighborhoods. Indicating more equity, Auraria, Washington Park, Country Club and Stapleton neighborhoods were the most positively scored areas.

Denver’s Sun Valley neighborhood rated consistently low across most measures. Sun Valley sits between Federal and I-25 and Sports Authority Field down to 6th Avenue. The neighborhood rated at a one out of five for educational attainment, poverty and access to care. These ratings show that the neighborhood has less high school graduates than other neighborhoods which will also indicate a higher level of poverty.

Councilman Kevin Flynn

The results come at a time when data on Denver’s property values just released, also show that the poorest neighborhoods will take the brunt of the hit from future tax spikes. In the most recent appraisal, which happens every two years, Sun Valley home values increased by 70.4 percent, more than any other Denver neighborhood.

“That map looks like our 2017 Goldbond equity map,” said Councilman Paul Lopez on the similarity between the equity map and the property increases.

Globeville and Montbello, two of the poorer neighborhoods that came up in the city’s data collection also showed home property value increases of 40.8 and 52.3 percent.

“This is a double-edged sword of course, because folks like to see the value of their property increase, but on the other hand we’ve seen what spikes and value have done in other parts of our city,” said second district Councilman Kevin Flynn.

This means gentrification, as Denver has been dealing with it in recent years. Long-time residents in poorer neighborhoods in Denver, such as Five Points and North Denver have been displaced to other areas of the city. Historically, this means that a new area of the city will have a higher concentration of poverty.

Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore

“That map shows areas that are primarily Latino, Mexican-American, Hispanic neighborhoods,” said Councilman Lopez regarding the property value increases. “They are almost identical to where we are seeing that thread of gentrification. That map hasn’t changed unfortunately since the foreclosure crisis.”

The city of Denver hopes that a $30 million grant from the federal government last December to invest in Sun Valley will help prevent gentrification. The grant will be used to build 750 city-owned affordable housing units, new parks and spaces for commercial businesses.

For the rest of Denver’s communities, the city still needs a plan to balance equity and property values.

“We are specifically going to need a funding stream. We are going to need to figure out how to assist property owners with their taxes come January 2018,” said Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore of Denver’s 11th District. “We have folks on fixed incomes and there are no other sources of income that they can tap into. We as the city are going to have to step up.”

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