By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver
(Denver, Colo.) More affordable housing may be coming to Denver. The city is considering two proposals: one to build new townhomes, the other to rehabilitate older affordable housing units. The City Council discussed the proposals at the Public Safety, Education and Homelessness Committee meeting last week
The committee approved giving a $1,260,000 loan to Habitat for Humanity to build new townhomes. Habitat will build Aria Townhomes at 2819 W. 53rd Ave. Only people who live at 80 percent of Denver's adjusted median income, or AMI, about $50,200 for single people and $57,600 for two-person households, can purchase the properties.
There will be 28 units, including eight two-bedroom apartments, nine three-bedroom apartments, and 11 four-bedroom apartments. The property previously was used as a convent for the Sisters of Marycrest.
If an Aria resident begins to earn more than 80 percent AMI after moving in, they can stay in their townhome. The income restriction only applies when the unit is purchased.
Project creates social, economic diversity
"This has been a long time coming," said City Councilwoman Amanda Sandoval, who attended the groundbreaking for the project. "As Northwest Denver has experienced a lot of displacement and we lost a lot of affordability, this project is essential to my council district to create the social economic diversity that it once had."
Meantime, City Council also will consider whether to award a $1.25 million loan to the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless to rehabilitate its Off Broadway Lofts. The 81-unit building opened 20 years ago. It includes 15 studios, 41 one-bedrooms, 22 two-bedrooms, and three three-bedrooms.
The building is in Arapahoe Square downtown and is close to transit and the Stout Street Clinic, also run by the Colorado Coalition for the Homelessness.
Civic Center Apartments also need rehab
A Colorado Coalition for the Homeless representative told the council its next building needing renovation is Civic Center Apartments. City Councilwoman Amanda Sawyer questioned whether the city should loan money to the Coalition to rehabilitate its properties. She asked a representative of the Coalition at the meeting if their buildings have maintenance funds. He said they do, but there is not enough to cover a significant rehabilitation.
Given the city's dire homelessness problem, Sawyer said she believes the city should spend money to build more housing, not rehabilitate what's already available. She said the city had planned to buy a hotel on East Colfax that could have housed 60 people. However, the Denver Department of Housing Stability was $500,000 short.
"And we're spending two and a quarter times as much on buildings that are 20 years old," Sawyer said.