Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has requested $12.3 million of marijuana tax revenue in his 2017-2018 fiscal year budget go to help house the homeless. The funds would be used to build new housing units, roughly 1,200 of them. Every 5 years, 300 more units would be built using marijuana tax dollars.
Hickenlooper is putting the people of Colorado first, especially when it comes to using marijuana tax dollars, as he wants $6 million in additional funds for low-income housing assistance, according to Westword. In addition to low-income housing, Hickenlooper is also requesting $4 million for behavioral health services housing and $2 million more for affordable senior citizen housing units. This all totals $24.3 million dollars.
Andrew Freedman, State of Colorado Director of Marijuana Coordination, said, “Roughly 70 to 80 percent of all homeless people have some drug-abuse problem, and one of the best public-health solutions is to give them housing and get them out of the cycle of dependency.”
Freedman also said, “We put roughly $40 million this year, and next year maybe closer to $50 million, into school construction. The problem is, there’s about a $15 billion needed for school construction, as we estimated it. I think people were expecting to see a lot more of an impact, that this money would bring a gym to their specific school. It’s just not enough money to do stuff like that. Even if we put every dollar of marijuana tax cash into school construction, it would cover less than a tenth of a percent of the need.”
The state will still use a significant amount of the marijuana tax dollars collected to improve schools, but also wants to focus on public health issues and aiding those with drug abuse issues.