Tim Roberts, president of East Colfax Neighborhood Association, runs the monthly ECNA via zoom on Tuesday. (Hannah Metzger)

The East Colfax Neighborhood Association will vote to determine its position on Denver’s group living ordinance.

After its monthly meeting Tuesday evening, the ECNA  now plans a vote via electronic ballot. Votes are due on Sept. 29. Only those who were present at Tuesday’s ECNA meeting are eligible to vote.

Approximately 30 community members were at the meeting.

The ballot includes options for approving current changes, refusing current changes and delaying the ordinance.

The ECNA intends to release an official position on the ordinance before a city council vote, which has not yet been scheduled. 

“I think there was a general feeling that people are supportive of the change of the zoning at the last meeting,” said Tim Roberts, president of ECNA.

The group living plan, which has been in the works for over two years, would increase the number of unrelated individuals allowed to live together from two to five, along with any number of their relatives. For houses 2,600 square feet or larger, the maximum number of unrelated adults would be raised to 10.

The proposal would also increase areas of the city that can accommodate residential-care facilities such as halfway houses and homeless shelters.

The goal of the plan is to increase housing options for Denver residents; however, the plan has faced fierce opposition from some residents who argue that the change could lead to unsafe neighborhoods, overcrowding and issues with parking, maintenance and noise.

Despite the general controversy, many members of the association supported the ordinance.

Brendan Greene, a member on the call, pointed to previous ECNA conversations on group living’s importance to the refugee community and people experiencing homelessness as a result of COVID-19.

“There’s a lot of communities that are already living in violation of the ordinance because it’s kind of ridiculous,” Greene said. “Many people, especially because of the pandemic, need to pair up.”

Roberts expressed disappointment in the conversation surrounding group living, calling The Denver Post’s recent opinion piece claiming that group living won’t help affordable housing “disappointing.”

Other members spoke out in agreement.

“The current ordinance around group living serves white people and serves heterosexual people,” said member Maya Thomas. “These laws really reinforce the idea of nuclear families. It’s really worrisome.”

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