DENVER — I know it's March, but there is a Denver city election on May 7.
Ballots go out in mid-April, so that's why you're seeing a political ad for two-term Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
The ad starts with his daughter, Janae, telling his childhood story of being homeless, living in a motel room and going to six elementary schools by third grade.
The rest of the ad gets to the part we'll put to the Truth Test.
CLAIM: And he’ll smile. And he’ll tell me how blessed he is to be mayor and get to help over 7,000 homeless people get housing."
VERDICT: The 7,000-figure is accurate based on statistics provided by the Denver's Department of Human Services, but there is needed context that could impact HOW accurate.
Based on statistics from July 2011 through this past December, Denver DHS has tracked 7,552 homeless people getting permanent housing through multiple programs. The programs include Denver's Road Home, OneHome and Denver Street Outreach Collaborative.
Here are a few caveats to the 7,000 total:
- Some of the people may be counted twice, depending on how they entered the housing programs.
- Runaways are included, even though they were temporarily without a home.
- The statistics do not reflect if the person becomes homeless again.
The OneHome program accounts for 1,768 of the 7,552 homeless people put in permanent housing. Denver DHS estimates this number because the database is regional and not Denver specific. According to a homeless advocate who reviewed the statistics for Next, the referrals through the OneHome program are not city-provided housing and the advocate said it would be a stretch to characterize all of that housing as being a result of city efforts.
CLAIM: "And make rec centers free for kids who grow up like he did."
VERDICT: This is true, but it took more than just Hancock to make it happen.
In 2012, Denver City Council first had to approve a question to be referred to voters. After doing so, voters overwhelmingly approved "Referred Question 2A." With 73 percent of the vote, Denver voters allowed Denver to "de-Bruce" and override the Taxpayer Bill of Rights and keep property tax revenues beyond the limits allowed by TABOR. The term "de-Bruce" is in reference to TABOR's author Douglas Bruce.
Question 2A promised to recruit 100 new police officers and firefighters, repave streets, restore hours to keep Denver Public Library locations open later, and yes, allow kids ages 5-18 free access to Denver's recreation centers.
BOTTOM LINE: This ad stands up on face value. Not all Truth Tests find ad claims false, but the missing context is important to know. You now have information on where the homeless statistics come from, and how Denver City Council and Denver votes assisted with allowing Hancock to provide free recreation center access to kids.
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