Denver voters were giving a solid thumbs down to a new excise tax on landlords to fund a legal defense program for tenants facing eviction.
Initiated Ordinance 305, the No Eviction Without Representation Denver, was failing by a 60% to 40% margin in early results, with 62,801 no votes and 41,314 in favor, according to Denver election results.
The measure would have charged landlords in Denver $75 per year per unit they own. The money from that inflation-adjusted tax, estimated at just shy of $12 million in the first year, would go to fund the legal defense for tenants during eviction proceedings.
Supporters argued that the measure would reduce homelessness and ease the acute housing crisis by creating a more level playing field between landlords and tenants. Very few tenants obtain legal representation because of costs and other barriers. But when they do, they are much more likely to remain in their homes as shown by a successful program in New York City.
But opponents, such as the Colorado Apartment Association, argue the fund would raise far more than is needed given the current number of eviction cases in Denver and lends itself to bureaucratic overkill, given that Denver already has a “right-to-counsel” ordinance in place. And in the end, the costs would be passed on to tenants.
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