Mike Johnston talks about his first moves as Denver's new mayor
Mike Johnston set an ambitious — if not unrealistic — goal in his campaign for Denver mayor: end homelessness within his first term, four years.
What he's saying: In an interview Wednesday, he told Axios Denver the work to accomplish it starts the day he takes the job in July, if not sooner, by finding city-owned property for local tiny home villages and vacant hotels to secure other housing units.
- "For me, the first step is to identify sites where we can start to place micro-communities, even before Day 1," Johnston told John.
Reality check: Johnston's not the first Denver mayor to declare he would end homelessness.
- Former Mayor John Hickenlooper, a past governor and current U.S. senator, pledged to do so in 2005 and never accomplished it. He later called it aspirational.
What's new: Johnston said voters supported him because he has the vision — and the plans to make it happen. "I think you will see us moving with all deliberate speed on getting these sites located, getting them built, getting people moved," he said.
- He added: "We will be moving more aggressively than any administration before."
Details: To add housing units for people experiencing homelessness , he said the key is community engagement and selecting the right sites to avoid opposition.
- As an example, he said a recently sanctioned camping site at an industrial location in North Park Hill was successful, but one in the heart of the Park Hill neighborhood was not. "For me that's the lesson," he said.
Between the lines: In our conversation, he clarified what he means by ending homelessness.
- "My goal is, do you have a world where the total number of folks who are coming into homeless every month is the same as the number coming out," he said.
Of note: By Friday, Johnston expects to announce a leader for his transition team that will oversee committees and vet applicants for key city department posts, as well as solicit public feedback on the city's current services.
Go deeper: A look at the election map informs Johnston's win, Alayna writes.
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