Veterans who have experienced homelessness have a new home in Aurora, Colorado.
Developed by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, the 60-unit community is next to the Colorado State Veterans Home at Fitzsimons and two blocks from a new Veterans Affairs hospital and medical center. To celebrate, the organization recently held its first-ever virtual grand opening.
Renaissance Veterans Apartments at Fitzsimons provides permanent supportive housing targeted to veterans experiencing and at risk of homelessness. In 2019, more than 1,000 veterans experienced homelessness in the state, according to officials.
This four-story building features 56 one-bedroom units and four two-bedroom units with full kitchens and bathrooms. High ceilings and large windows in each unit and throughout the building create a sense of openness for the residents. On-site amenities will include case management, 24-hour reception, laundry facilities, a TV room, a computer lab, an outdoor workout facility, a dog run, a walking path, a kitchen, a multipurpose room, and community gathering spaces. It also features a medical exam room for on-site resident needs.
In this project, the Coalition elected to include 40% of the units designated as fully accessible, including a higher percentage of accessible parking spaces, and paid a higher degree of attention to the use of the facility, with extra wide corridors, generous public spaces, and good light levels throughout, along with accessible paths and site amenities. The design is trauma-informed and focuses on creating a “living-room feel” for veterans to create a sense of community.
Support for the $17.3 million project came from Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, Colorado Division of Housing, city of Aurora, Federal Home Loan Bank of Topeka, Home Depot, National Affordable Housing Trust, and Bank of the West, with essential participation from Mercy Loan Fund, Colorado Department of Human Services, the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
About $13.3 million in low-income housing tax credit equity was provided by Bank of the West through syndication with National Affordable Housing Trust. This was part of an Opportunity Zone investment, according to John Parvensky, Coalition president and CEO.
The opening of the Renaissance Veterans Apartment represents the 18th development created by the organization and its development subsidiary, Renaissance Housing Development Corp., over the past 25 years, representing over 2,000 housing units, making the Coalition the largest supportive housing developer and operator in Colorado. It opened a 139-unit supportive housing development—the Fusion Studios—in April through the conversion of an operating hotel to studio apartments, creating “almost instant” housing for those experiencing homelessness.