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 officials on Thursday announced plans to invest $5.5 million in a land trust that would help create 79 long-term affordable homes citywide and purchase land for future affordable housing in the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods.

City officials have negotiated contracts – subject to approval by the city council – with three developers who would build or refurbish home and sell them to moderate-income households.

Most of the units will be purchased through a land trust which would continue owning the land beneath the homes and make them permanently affordable through 99-year deed restrictions. Money for the projects would come from a city fund aimed at creating sustainable affordable housing, officials said.

“This is a partnership, a village, of people working hard to make sure we address Denver’s greatest challenge of affordability in housing,” Mayor Michael Hancock said during a news conference in Elyria Park.

Housing officials said the plans announced Thursday have been under development over the last two years.

The announcement comes at a time when the scarcity of affordable housing in the city and the growth and development that has led to gentrification and the displacement of lower-income residents has been a major issue in the municipal election campaigns.

Britta Fisher, chief housing officer of Denver Economic Development and Opportunity, said the land trust program will target neighborhoods in Northeast Denver and the West Side that have been identified as at-risk for gentrification and displacement.

The three developers would be Elevation Community Land Trust, Brothers Redevelopment and Habitat for Humanity. Each has a slightly different business model, Fisher said.

The pending contracts mostly call for the acquisition of existing properties which would be refurbished and sold to households making 80 percent of the area median income, which is up to $52,000 for a single person household and up to $66,850 for a family of four.

In some cases, the developer would retain the right of first refusal if the homes are resold to help keep them in use as affordable housing, officials said.

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