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Denver City Council approves new housing development in Five Points for homeless

By ALAYNA ALVAREZ alayna.alvarez@coloradopolitics.comDec 14, 2020 Updated Jan 11, 2021

The Denver City Council unanimously approved a trio of contracts on Monday, worth $4.1 million, to establish 98 new units of supportive housing and a 75-bed recuperative medical care center in the Five Points neighborhood for people living without housing.

The nine-story project will be made possible in partnership with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. The complex, to be called Legacy Lofts, will be located at 2175 California St., two blocks from a public transit station and adjacent to the Stout Street Health Center. 

“The solution to homelessness is housing, and we’re proud to partner once again with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless to fund safe, secure housing with access to services,” Britta Fisher, executive director of Denver’s Department of Housing Stability, said in a statement. “Legacy Lofts is indeed a legacy project that will make a critical difference in helping to exit individuals from homelessness and to establish stability in their lives.”

Most of the contract funds will be dedicated to the construction of studio and one-bedroom units. All units will be restricted to those earning 30% or less of the area median income, which equates to $21,000 or less for a single-person household.

However, Legacy Lofts residents will have the possibility to remain there while earning up to 60% AMI, including housing supports. Building in that extra flexibility provides the opportunity for residents to “graduate” from homelessness “without being displaced” in the process, said Megan Yonke, the city’s housing development officer.

The remaining funds, about $797,000, will be funneled toward a recuperative care center, which will provide beds and medical services to unhoused residents who are transitioning from local hospitals and clinics. Funding is provided by the Community Development Block Grant program, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s to improve communities through investments in housing, infrastructure, public services and economic opportunities.

Two more city contracts with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless are also in the pipeline to provide supportive services for those who will eventually call Legacy Lofts home. The contracts, totaling $750,000, will support “intensive” case management services, housing stabilization, access to a treatment team and connections to community support systems.

Denver acquired the site for the Legacy Lofts project through resources from a partnership between the city and the Denver Housing Authority. The “DHA Delivers for Denver” Program has utilized property tax mill levy revenue to create $129 million in bond funding to speed up the development and preservation of nearly 2,500 affordable housing units over the next half-decade.

Across Denver, a total of 1,808 affordable units receiving city financing are currently under construction at 23 sites, according to city housing officials. An additional 904 income-restricted units are in the planning stage.

At least 4,171 people were estimated to be experiencing homelessness in Denver, according to the latest Point-in-Time snapshot taken in January, months before the pandemic sparked soaring unemployment and further threatened the roofs over renters’ heads.