Banks, foundations and the state launch fund for permanently affordable homes and neighborhood amenities

The goal is to create “opportunities for all residents to live, work and play in the communities of their choice.”
3 min. read
363 S. Harlan St. Lakewood, Nov. 13, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A new source of low-cost loans for affordable housing is available in the Denver area.

FirstBank, Colorado Health Foundation, The Denver Foundation, Colorado Housing and Finance Authority and the Urban Land Conservancy announced Tuesday they had launched the "Metro Denver Impact Facility." They hope it will grow into a $50 million revolving loan fund for Urban Land Conservancy projects, which include include things like affordable housing, nonprofit facilities, schools and community centers in and around Denver.

FirstBank pitched in $25 million to "make a significant impact in providing affordable space throughout Metro Denver, which is critical to the health and vitality of local communities," Amber Hills,  president of FirstBank's Lakewood Market, said in a statement.

The state housing authority was the initial partner, investing $2 million. The Denver Foundation is among philanthropic and quasi-government lenders that have committed more low-interest capital.

The Urban Land Conservancy, a real estate nonprofit that will be the only borrower from the fund, said it has more commitments from lenders and hopes to secure $20 million in loan capital this year with a goal of reaching $50 million in 2020.

Doug Selbee, Denver's interim chief housing officer, welcomed the announcement.

"More funds are great,' he said, adding the city also is increasing spending on affordable housing. Mayor Michael Hancock's plan to double the city's affordable housing fund got City Council approval in August.

Selbee also noted the Urban Land Conservancy's track record of involvement in facilities such as a Transit Oriented Development Fund that has benefited the whole region.

"We know we're not alone in this," he said of the affordable housing challenge. "These partnerships are key."

The partners in the Metro Denver Impact Facility announced first project to benefit on Tuesday. It is the purchase of the Harlan Nonprofit Center, a 29,000-square-foot Lakewood office building that houses the headquarters of Lutheran Family Services, a dental practice and a law firm specializing in education and civil rights law. The Urban Land Conservancy said its $3.69 million purchase will allow the current tenants to stay in the building, which is near two major bus lines and a mile from the Belmar Shopping District.

"Families and our nonprofit partners are being pushed out of their communities or relocating due to the high costs of real estate,"

said Karen McNeil-Miller, president and CEO of the Colorado Health Foundation. "This is a health equity issue. To ensure people have what they need to be healthy, they need affordable and available space to live and work."

Urban Land Conservancy President and CEO Aaron Miripol said the goal was to  create "opportunities for all residents to live, work and play in the communities of their choice."

Updates with comment from Denver housing official.

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