As recently as two years ago, the Denver Post headlined an investigative report with the title: “Census data showed Colorado as No. 1 state for housing instability among people older than 65.” More than a third of survey respondents 65 and older expressed “slight confidence” or “no confidence” they could make their housing payment. Since then housing prices, including rents, have gone steadily upward, along with the 65+ age population cohort.
“There’s always been people who can’t afford the cost of living, but there’s more of them now, because of our population growing in 65-plus,” State Demographer Elizabeth Garner said at the time. Her office said the older adult population in Colorado had more than doubled in 20 years, and was projecting it to reach 1.3 million by 2035. A huge percentage of these people live on fixed incomes.
One of a number of issues driving the housing situation is simply lack of affordable housing inventory. Some help may be on the way in the form of what are called Transformational Affordable Housing Grants (TAHG), but it’ll take time for grant-supported housing to be built or converted. In July 2023, Governor Jared Polis and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) announced the third round of TAHG recipients, providing support to 13 Colorado counties. Grants are overseen by the Division of Housing (DOH) in DOLA. They have been reviewed and recommended for funding by the State Housing Board, which is made up of individuals appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Colorado Senate.
Originating from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) with the intended use to assist in mitigating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 1,353 affordable housing units will be provided or preserved statewide with this round of grants. Polis said he hopes the program can further remove barriers to new housing and make Colorado a more affordable place to live.
As an indication of what the future might bring, here are the projects approved for TAHGs in the third round of grant awards, some of which specifically target seniors and several others that would be open to senior beneficiaries:
The City of Alamosa was awarded $4,200,000 toward completing a six-phase master-planned community that will create 406 new affordable units with a diversity of housing types targeting the gamut of income levels. This range meets the full spectrum of housing options for families, renters, homeowners, and seniors in the community.
Mountain View Duplexes
Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver, Inc. was awarded $750,000 for construction of a 20-unit affordable home-for-sale community in Aurora. Habitat will build high-quality, energy-efficient homes, provide affordable mortgages to eligible low-income buyers (80% AMI [area median income] or less) for fee simple ownership. The project will construct 10 duplex buildings including four single-story 3-bedroom fully accessible units, 10 two-story 3-bedroom units, and six two-story 4-bedroom units.
Flatirons Habitat for Humanity
This project, awarded $700,000, will ultimately allow for construction of 12 units, in four tri-plex buildings in Broomfield, CO. Nine units will be traditional Habitat homeownership units, and three units will be purchased by the Broomfield Housing Authority and operated as rental units.
The Housing Authority of the City and County of Denver was awarded $6,000,000 to develop Flo Senior, a 212-unit community for seniors (age 55+) and people with disabilities (age 18+) in the Sun Valley neighborhood in Denver. The development will include 202 one-bedroom and 10 two-bedroom units. Of the 212 units, 83 are restricted at 30% AMI, 23 units at 50% AMI, and 106 units at (60%) AMI. A total of 106 units ranging between 30% AMI and 50% AMI will be served by Housing Choice Vouchers provided by the Housing Authority of the City and County of Denver.
Theodora Family Hotel
Volunteers of America Colorado (VOAC) was awarded $7,000,000 to develop the Theodora Family Hotel, a 60-studio room shelter located in Denver. The project will serve families with minor children and veterans experiencing homelessness.
Unity on Park Street
The Douglas County Housing Partnership (DCHP) was awarded $4,000,000 to assist with the acquisition and rehab of a La Quinta Inn to provide affordable housing for low-income households with support from Wellspring Communities. DCHP is partnering with Wellspring Communities, a non-profit organization serving individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities. These units will be available for households at or below 60% of the AMI. The rehab will convert the 63-room building into 40 affordable apartment homes.
CMC/ECHDA Attainable Housing
Colorado Mountain College (CMC) was awarded $2,000,000 for their CMC/ECHDA (Eagle County Housing and Development Authority) Attainable Housing project. This will contribute immediately to the affordable housing inventory in Eagle County, with all units restricted to residents at or below 100% AMI.
The Eagle County Housing and Development Authority is requesting $10,000,000 to assist in funding the purchase and resale subsidy of 43 newly-constructed, 2-bedroom/2-bath condominium units in the Haymeadow area of Eagle.
Helen Hunt Campus.
Catholic Charities of Central Colorado was awarded $4,412,266 for the rehabilitation of their Helen Hunt Campus, a transitional housing project to increase the transitional housing inventory in the Pikes Peak region. The project will convert a historic two-story building previously used for commercial space of two non-profits into 24 multi-sized family apartments. All units will be 30% AMI, with a mix of 9 studios, 4 one-bedrooms, 10 two-bedrooms, and 1 three-bedroom.
The Town of Bayfield was awarded a TAHG grant in the amount of $2,656,158 for infrastructure on 30 platted townhome lots in the Cinnamon Heights subdivision.
The Thompson School District was awarded $3,757,160 for Matthew’s House in Larimer County, which will provide a regional drop-in center and 20 overnight non-congregate shelter beds for youth (15-17 years of age) and young adults (18-21 years of age) experiencing or at-risk of homelessness.
8th Street Project
The Craig Housing Authority was awarded $2.750,000 in TAHG funds to assist with the development of 20 new modular townhomes in Craig. The project will create four 5-plexes. Each 5-plex will include two 3-bedroom units and three 2-bedroom units.
The Yampa Valley Housing Authority and Lone Tree Trust, LLC was awarded $4,000,000 in TAHG funds to assist with the development of the Mid Valley property in Steamboat Springs. The entire scope of the project proposes to build 234 workforce housing units by developing 84 for-sale condominiums and 150 rental apartments. Units will be restricted to households earning 80%-140% of AMI.
Village Court Apartments
The Mountain Village Housing Authority was granted $2,225,000 for infrastructure and construction costs to expand Village Court Apartments in San Miguel County. The project will include 21 one- and two-bedroom units in one building and 14 three- and four-bedroom units in a pod style with shared kitchen, living room, and bathrooms. The target AMI for these units is between 100%-140%.
Hope Springs. Greeley-Weld
Habitat for Humanity was awarded $3,000,000 for infrastructure development for Hope Springs, which will ultimately serve 175 homes to be sold to families at 30%-80% AMI. There will be 77 duplexes (154 units) and 21 single-family homes with 3 to 5 bedrooms.
The aim of the Transformational Affordable Housing Grant Program is to provide funds and resources to assist eligible applicants in developing, creating or preserving affordable housing opportunities in their communities. The fourth and final round of TAHG awards are expected to be announced later in 2023.