Project Category: Building Affordable Housing
Organization Name: Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
Organization Website: http://www.coloradocoalition.org
2130 Stout Street
Denver, Colorado 80205
Project Cost: $39,000,000
This innovative development project features a 78 unit supportive housing development on the upper three floors of a five-story, new construction building that includes a “state of the art”, 54,000 s.f. integrated health center for homeless families and individuals. The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless is both the developer and the operator of the Lofts and the Health Center. This $39 million project utilized a complex financing structure including Low Income Housing Tax Credits, HOME funding, FHLB AHP funds and developer equity for the Lofts and New Market Tax Credits, HRSA grant funds, capital grants from local foundations, individual contributions, and leveraged loans for the Health Center. The Lofts serves 20 formerly homeless families and 58 former chronically homeless individuals, with on site counseling and case management support, while the Health Center increased the Coalition’s health care capacity by 50%, allowing it to provide integrated medical care, mental health and addictions treatment, dental, vision, pharmacy, and social services to more than 10,000 unduplicated patients through over 100,000 visits each year. The project created 105 predevelopment and construction jobs, and 172 health center and supportive housing jobs, including peer specialists for formerly homeless individuals.
The combined housing and health care projects support the Coalition’s vision of integrated health care and housing. These new supportive housing units adds to the 1600 units developed by the Coalition over the past 20 years with enhanced health and supportive services for its residents. The new health center increased the capacity of the Coalition to fully integrate its medical, behavioral health, oral health, pharmacy, and social services in one location while integrating these services with its housing. Together, the project is a model capable of replication in other communities.
Current Status: Project completed in 2014 and stabilized in 2015.
Community Needs Addressed:
The project met the dual critical needs of expanded supportive housing for the most vulnerable homeless families and individuals as well as integrated health care, mental health, addictions treatment, dental care, vision care, pharmacy and social services for more than 10,000 homeless families and individuals. The project also assembled a vacant lot and two vacant and dilapidated buildings to redevelop a half city block with quality construction that mirrors market rate housing and facilities, stimulating economic development for this community. The project follows a “Housing is Health Care” philosophy and allowed the Coalition to maximize its integration of “best practice” health care with supportive housing. The project utilized Enterprise Green Community guidelines to provide enhanced energy efficiency and healthy interior spaces. Located in Downtown Denver, this Transit Oriented project located within two blocks of two light rail stations provides residents and patients quality access to amenities in the community.
The integration of supportive housing with health care meets the vital community needs facing Denver’s homeless. With rent at record levels in Denver, and an increase in chronic homelessness, this project catalyzed efforts to target the most vulnerable families and individuals for housing assistance, while addressing the complex health condition, mental illness and co-occurring addictions that kept many trapped in a cycle of homelessness. The Housing First approach, trauma informed design, and integrated services removed barriers that prevented those on the streets from moving to long term housing, maintaining that housing, and addressing the underlying health and mental health conditions.
Benefits and outcome:
The project housed 78 chronically homeless families and individual using a “Housing First” philosophy within 45 days of opening. 95% of the original tenants are stably housed today. The project has helped 25% of the households move to employment, and an additional 30% increase their income through public benefits. The Health Center has provided integrated health care for more than 15,000 patients in the first two years. The project increased access to primary health care, dental care, mental health services, addictions treatment, vision care, and pharmacy to underserved families and individuals in the community. It has also allowed the Coalition to leverage additional funding to build an additional 204 units of supportive housing with enhanced assertive community treatment services for high utilizers of expensive publicly funded emergency services, leading to reduced costs and improved health status for participants. The project also created 105 predevelopment and construction jobs, and 172 health center and supportive housing jobs, including peer specialists jobs for formerly homeless individuals.
Specific benefits from the integrated health services include a reduction in depression among patients, a reduction of “potentially preventable hospital admissions”, an improvement of health status of patients, and an increase of residential stability.
The project also allowed the Coalition to expand its Housing First services targeted to chronically homeless individuals who were frequent utilizers of expensive city funded emergency services through the Denver Social Impact Bond program. This program targets 250 individuals through a combination of supportive housing and integrated health care, with initial funding coming from social investors, with repayment of investment from the city based on demonstrated outcomes of housing stability and reduced jail day by participants. To date more than 100 individuals have been moved from the streets into housing.
Project partners and collaborators:
The project brought together a large number of partners and collaborators. The Coalition was the developer of both the Lofts and Health Center. US Bank provided equity investment through the Low Income Tax Credit ($11 million) and New Market Tax Credit programs ($5 million). US Bank also provided an $8 million NMTC allocation to the project. Building America CDE provided additional NMTC allocation of $3 million. The federal Health Resources Services Administration provided a $5 million grant, while the Colorado Health Foundation ($2 million) and Anschutz Foundation ($1 million) led a $5 million local capital campaign. The City and County of Denver provided $1 million of HOME funds, while the Colorado Division of Housing matched with an additional $1 million. The Denver Housing Authority and CO Division of Housing provided 50 Section 8 project based vouchers to enhance the affordability of the project. Enterprise Community Partners provided acquisition and predevelopment financing, and the Kresge Foundation provided a $3 million working capital loan to catalyze the project. US Bank provided construction financing as well.
The Coalition worked collaboratively with the Metro Denver Homelessness Initiative and Denver’s Road Home to coordinate referrals for housing and health care services. The Coalition worked with its emergency shelter and transitional housing partners, as well as the Denver Street Outreach Collaborative to prioritize the most vulnerable in the community and to engage these individuals through housing and health care.
The Coalition also worked with the neighborhood associations and Downtown Denver Partnership to address neighborhood and business concerns and obtain community support for the project.
What makes your project unique?
The Stout Street Lofts and Health Center is one of the first truly integrated supportive housing and health center project in the nation. Combining the supportive housing and the health center created multiple benefits that can be replicated in other communities. First, the combination shared infrastructure costs, allowing each to be built on valuable land that would otherwise be unaffordable as a single development. Second, the combination leveraged additional community support for each effort, as the housing leveraged health care funding and the health care leveraged housing funding. Third, the condominium structure for separating the Low Income Housing Tax Credit financing from the New Market Tax Credit financing created a structure that the Coalition has been able to replicate in subsequent supportive housing developments combining the competitive 9% LIHTC credits and 4% Private Activity Bonds, allowing us to increase housing production by 30%. Fourth, the project demonstrates and documents the importance of addressing both the housing and health care needs of chronically homeless families and individuals. Fifth, the project has leveraged additional investment for new supportive housing and supportive services in the community.
The quality of design utilized in the project, both exterior and interior, demonstrated that quality design can reduce the stigma often associated with affordable housing and homeless facilities. It helped overcome NIMBY sentiments and galvanized community support for the project. The “trauma informed” design elements, incorporating large windows to provide enhanced natural light, large waiting areas for patients, oversized windows and balconies in the Lofts, and community convening spaces helped create community within the Lofts and the Health Center.
The Lofts includes vital community space, including a large community room for resident meetings , a terrace providing an urban garden for residents, and a computer lab.
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