Mayor Michael Hancock announces affordable housing plan

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock talks about a proposed $5.5 million investment in a land trust aimed at creating long-term affordable housing for moderate income houses. He is seen speaking at Elyria Park on May 30.

Denver recently was awarded by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs’ Division of Housing more than $2.6 million to help fund its affordable housing needs.

The allotment was part of a $9.5 million grant that addressed accessible, safe and secure living arrangements for residents across the state.

“These projects represent a range of housing needs across the state,” DOLA Executive Director Rick Garcia said in a statement. “There is increasing demand for affordable housing options, which DOH strives to meet in its work statewide.”

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Denver received nearly $650,000 to revamp a dormitory building on the former Loretto Heights campus in southwest Denver that has sat vacant for the last three years. The project will restore 68 studios, one- and two-bedroom units for households ranging from 30 to 80% of the area median income.

The historical building was formerly known as Pancracia Hall Lofts. Its units will be renovated in a way that preserves its historical design, which features traditional pantries, vaulted ceilings and oversized windows.

Another $2 million was granted for the development of Central Park Urban Living in Denver’s Stapleton neighborhood. The new construction project supports 132 for-sale condominiums for homebuyers under 80% of the AMI.

Denver is currently experiencing an affordable housing shortage. Meanwhile, its median rent has risen for the past four years.

More than half of renters in the city are cost-burdened, or spending more than 30% of their income on housing, according to a 2018 report by the rental listing site ApartmentList, which analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data.

Earlier this month, in a bipartisan letter to Congress, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock was one of 44 mayors representing eight of 10 most populous areas in the United States to call for the passage of legislation that would build 550,000 new affordable housing units nationwide over the next decade.

“Cities have been stepping up where the federal government has fallen short on providing housing options for hard working families,” Hancock said in an email to Colorado Politics. “The expansion of this tax credit is an important incentive to get more affordable housing out of the ground at a time when there is an urgent need for it, and an important partnership with the cities already stretched to meet the needs of their residents.”

His 2020 budget allocates $97 million toward “affordable and attainable” housing, with more than $70 million funneled toward the new housing stability department.

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