On any given night, 1,000 chronically homeless individuals are living on the streets in metro Denver, says John Parvensky, president of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.
The opening of Renaissance Stout Street Lofts and Health Center in July 2014 has helped take 78 homeless individuals and families off the streets and out of shelters and provide them with needed health care and supportive services.
The 63 one-bedroom and 15 two-bedroom units are targeted to chronically homeless families and individuals, including those suffering from mental illness or chronic health conditions, recovering from substance abuse, and escaping from domestic violence. All of the units receive subsidies so residents pay no more than 30% of their income on rent. Three on-site case managers also work with residents to coordinate their care and access services.
“About half of the folks moved directly from the streets, and the remainder moved from shelters or transitional housing. So this housing has had an immediate impact on their lives of leaving the streets and shelters behind,” says Parvensky, adding that 96% of the initial residents are still living there more than a year after moving in.
Co-locating a health center with the housing has been a critical component to helping the residents stabilize their lives.
“The housing needs are great, but many of the families and individuals also need additional supports to allow them to obtain and maintain housing and address their health and mental health needs,” says Parvensky. “The ability to expand the supply while expanding our capacity to provide needed integrated health services allows us to make a dent in that homeless population.”
The 54,000-square-foot Stout Street Health Center provides primary, mental health, dental, and vision care, and a pharmacy for the residents as well as the surrounding community. The health center served approximately 7,000 homeless individuals over the last year.
Located on an urban infill site downtown, the development was designed to reflect the market-rate and office projects being constructed in its vicinity.
It also was built to Enterprise Green Communities energy-efficiency guidelines. Parvensky says the energy-efficiency features, such as aquatherm HVAC systems and enhanced insulation, are achieving utility savings of $25 a month for one-bedroom units and $50 a month for two-bedroom units.
The development utilized a creative combination of low-income housing tax credits and New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs), both with equity investments from U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp. The NMTC allocation was provided by U.S. Bank and Building America CDE, an AFL-CIO Housing Trust division.
In addition, the $16 million Stout Street Lofts received city and state HOME funds as well as a Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco Affordable Housing Program grant, and the $18.7 million clinic benefited from grant funding and capital contributions.