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Following through on Mike Johnston's campaign promises will take money

Mayor-elect Mike Johnston will come into office carrying the weight of an ambitious pledge: to end homelessness in four years.

DENVER — Now that Denver voters have selected Mike Johnston as their mayor-elect, it is time for Johnston to follow through on his campaign promises.

He laid them out on his campaign website, with white papers and budgets for how the promises would get funded.

"That's why we worked really hard when no one else did, to say we're going to build out a comprehensive white paper on every single policy we roll out. We're going to put a comprehensive budget out there on everything we're going to roll out. We're going to say exactly how much it's going to cost and where the money's going to come from,” Johnston said in an interview Tuesday night after winning.

"That means we're talking about a plan to get folks and people who are unhoused into housing, you know that's not a letter to Santa Claus, that's actually a real plan with a real budget."


For instance, his plan to end homelessness in four years includes spending $35 million on 1,400 tiny homes.

Where does the money come from?

According to his budget, “Denver’s portion of the $138 million in one-time federal stimulus funding made available for permanent supportive house, among other things.”

That does not quite tell the whole story, though.

The $138 million is allocated through a bill passed by the legislature in 2022. It is a grant program run by the state. There is no “Denver’s portion.”

If Johnston wants $35 million for tiny homes, the city of Denver, just like any other city or county, will have to apply to get awarded the money.

Public Safety

Johnston wants to hire 200 more clinical professionals, EMTs and police officers. He has a budget cost of $20 million, with $10 million of it coming from “saved overtime.” That means half of the money relies on hiring more personnel to keep current staff from working so much overtime.


Part of his climate plan calls for $10 million to increase reliability and service for RTD commuters. He does not project using any city money. Instead, it relies on convincing businesses to purchase $10 million worth of EcoPasses for employees to use RTD instead of driving.

Several other policy initiatives call for money from philanthropy, meaning private donors or charity.

Commentary: Stakes are high for Denver's incoming mayor


Some after school programs for kids already have some donated money currently. Johnston’s campaign staff said he is going to try to get more contributions to expand that program. His budget is $4 million between existing city funding and donors.

The arts

His policy for the arts calls for $10 million to be spent to provide 20-to-30 units of free housing for artists in residence.

The $10 million is to come from private donors or land contributions.

The money is all laid out, but depending on the policy initiative, it does not necessarily exist yet.

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