REMI Partnership study contemplates the impacts of Denver’s proposed Initiative 300, also known as Right to Survive

February 19, 2019
Contact: Cinamon Watson

Denver, CO – A new study released by the REMI Partnership examines the impacts of a proposed initiative Denver voters will confront on the May 2019 ballot. Initiative 300, also known as “Right to Survive,” grants new rights for unimpeded access to public outdoor space owned in-part or wholly by the City and County of Denver.

“We all agree that people experiencing homelessness have a right to live in Denver,” said Colorado Concern President & CEO Mike Kopp. “That doesn’t mean we should turn Denver’s parks and sidewalks into homeless camps. As our study shows, this is a sweeping change in policy with no evidence of improving opportunities or conditions for homeless individuals in Denver.”

Initiative 300 would provide any and all accessible public outdoor space under the jurisdiction of the City and County of Denver, owned or leased, to be made available for people to create and reside in non-obstructive shelter, indefinitely. Specific areas that fall clearly under the definition of the proposal include the 24/7 unrestricted camping use of all city parks, easements, medians, open space, Red Rocks Amphitheater, parkways, streams, sidewalks, 16th Street Mall and others.

According to the study, while there is no comparable city with a similar law, areas such as Los Angeles and Seattle have experienced significant revenue loss and suffer increasing economic costs. In those cities, unlike Denver, the lack of infrastructure to support the homeless combined with the inability to enforce existing laws has led to an escalation of chronic homelessness.

Key findings of the study include:

  • The City and County of Denver spends $50 million annually on services for the homeless.
  • In addition to expenditures by the City of Denver, charitable organizations with available budget budgets combine to spend over an additional $90 million annually.  Consider a contrast, 2017, CDOT spent $89.6 million statewide on roadway expansion projects.
  • The combination of City, Federal and charitable donations from individuals equates to over $26,000 per homeless individual.  The current expenditure per-pupil in Denver Public Schools is $17,365.
  • In the Denver Metro area, there are approximately 5,300 people experiencing homelessness and there are 6,376 shelter beds available throughout the 7-county metro area.

“Findings of the study indicate that we have enough beds to meet the needs of Denver’s homeless population,” said Don Childears, President and CEO of the Colorado Bankers Association. “That fact combined with the harm to those living on the street is cause to question the wisdom of making this sweeping change to our parks and public properties.”


About the REMI Partnership: Common Sense Policy Roundtable, Colorado Concern, Colorado Association of REALTORS®, Colorado Bankers Association, and Denver South Economic Development Partnership have partnered to develop independent, fact-based analysis that quantifies the broader economic impacts associated with policy changes. The partnership has provided Colorado lawmakers, policymakers, business leaders, and citizens with greater insight into the economic impact of public policy decisions that face the state and surrounding regions.

Read more about our latest study here.