Homeless

The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless Manages Nearly 2,000 Homes. That's Not Enough

The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless has a large footprint in meto Denver.
The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless has a large footprint in meto Denver. Courtesy of Cathy Alderman
The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless has become a major property owner since it started in the mid-1980s with an annual budget of $100,000. Today it has a yearly operating budget of over $100 million, 750 employees and a real estate portfolio with a book value of approximately $200 million.

That portfolio includes the newly acquired La Quinta Inn at 3500 Park Avenue West.

On September 26, Denver City Council approved sending $5 million to the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless to fund the continued sheltering of homeless individuals at that La Quinta. The hotel, which the Coalition purchased back in December 2021, has provided 103 rooms for people who test positive for COVID and also those who are particularly vulnerable to the illness; the $5 million, which is American Rescue Plan Act money, will help the Coalition pay off some of the financing that the organization used to purchase the motel.

“Motel and hotel sites have been a lifeline for people experiencing homelessness in Denver to recover from COVID and to stay in safe, protected spaces,” says John Parvensky, president and CEO of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.

The $5 million will also ensure that the hotel either remains a shelter or turns into housing for the next sixty years. The CCH's long-term vision includes redeveloping the site and constructing 200 units of supportive housing.

“We know that these recovery spaces are an ongoing need through this pandemic and for future health-care needs. As the emergency winds down, we hope to convert the site into desperately needed affordable and supportive housing over the next few years to serve our unhoused community," Parvensky says.

With a potential windfall of $4 million from another federal government spending package, the CCH has been seriously considering another addition to its portfolio: the 180-room Clarion Hotel, at 200 West 48th Avenue. If it acquires the property, the Coalition plans to turn it into permanent supportive housing.

"We are still in negotiations, and it's likely that closing won’t happen until October at this point," notes Cathy Alderman, chief communications and public policy officer for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. "Obviously, it only happens if the funding comes through."

The CCH is waiting on $4 million that Congresswoman Diana DeGette, a Democrat who represents Denver, was able to earmark for the project in a spending bill approved by the U.S. House of Representatives. DeGette had originally sought to get $5 million for the potential purchase, but a House committee reduced that to $4 million. And even then, the $4 million would have to be included in a final spending package approved by both the House and the Senate before the CCH can count on the funding for the project.

"No family should have to worry whether they’ll be able to put food on their table or a roof over their heads at night," DeGette says in reference to the proposed funding for the Clarion Hotel purchase and other projects that would help lower-income individuals. "Every one of these projects has the potential to provide a much-needed lifeline to someone in need. And for those struggling to make ends meet or desperately searching for an affordable place to live, the help these projects will provide can’t come soon enough."

And it also doesn't begin to cover the number of people who need housing in Denver. According to the 2022 Point in Time count, there were 4,798 people experiencing homelessness in the City of Denver on a given night in January.

That's far more than the CCH can house in the current properties in its portfolio, including close to 1,700 units that the CCH owns outright. Alderman notes that the $200 million estimated value "doesn't reflect appreciation, nor the rent restrictions, which are much lower than market."

Here's what the CCH owns, as well as two properties it manages:
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The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless has a large footprint in meto Denver.
Courtesy of Cathy Alderman
PROPERTIES IN DENVER

Beacon Place
3636 West Colfax Avenue
The CCH opened the 85-bed Beacon Place, which includes single-, double- and triple-occupancy rooms as transitional housing, in 1999 and then renovated the building in 2013. It has 24-hour on-site case management and some rooms designated for women, veterans and individuals seeking respite care after a hospital stay. Residents have access to meals, housekeeping and laundry services.

Forum Apartments
250 West 14th Avenue

Opened by CCH in 1996, the Forum Apartments boast 100 studio apartments, each of which has a full kitchen. The Forum Apartments were part of the first permanent supportive housing complex in Denver; leases run for a year at a time. The Coalition is currently in the process of completing a $10 million renovation of the property; most of that money is coming from low-income housing tax credit investments and a long-term loan.

Fusion Studios
3737 Quebec Street

Fusion Studios include 114 permanent supportive-housing studio apartments and 25 bridge-housing studio apartments for people experiencing homelessness. Rents range anywhere from free to $1,029. The studio apartments come with kitchenettes and have twelve-month lease terms.

La Quinta Inn
3500 Park Avenue West
Late last year, the Coalition purchased the La Quinta near downtown, which the organization has been using throughout the pandemic as a place where individuals experiencing homelessness who test positive for COVID can isolate. The CCH has also been using the motel as temporary shelter for people who are at a heightened risk from serious illness or death from COVID. "When there is no longer need for the COVID response use, we might convert it into bridge housing and, over time, we might scrape the motel and build up to 200 units of affordable/supportive housing on the site. But that is probably a couple or several years away," says Alderman.

Renaissance at Civic Center Apartments
25 East 16th Avenue
The CCH bought this property, which had 167 units, from the YMCA in 2001. During a renovation, the property was expanded to 202 studio apartments with kitchenettes and fourteen one-bedroom apartments. The building is occupied by those who might otherwise be homeless, including veterans, people with mental illnesses and those needing substance-use treatment. The apartments are also an option for low-income workers in downtown Denver who can't afford to live in the area otherwise. Rent for the units, which are leased for up to a year at a time, runs between $402 and $600.

Renaissance at Lowry Boulevard
550 Alton Way

Created on nine acres in the Lowry neighborhood in 2003, the Renaissance at Lowry Boulevard includes 120 apartment units, with a mix of two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments. These units are available for both homeless individuals and low-income families; all residents have access to a range of amenities, including a swimming pool and an exercise room. Rent ranges from $550 to $1,690.

Renaissance Blue Spruce Townhomes
7300 East Severn Place
The CCH acquired the Blue Spruce Townhomes, also located in Lowry, in 2000 from the Lowry Redevelopment Authority, which got the property from the Department of Defense; the Coalition reopened the 92-unit facility in 2003. It features two-, three- and four-bedroom townhomes that are available as transitional and permanent supportive housing for families experiencing homelessness, in addition to low- and moderate-income families. The facility has a playground and a community garden, and rents range from $525 to $1,679.
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The Renaissance at North Colorado Station.
Courtesy of Cathy Alderman
Renaissance at North Colorado Station
3999 Colorado Boulevard
This mixed-income housing development in the Clayton neighborhood has 103 units in an array of models, available to homeless individuals and low-income individuals and families. Twenty-six of the units are reserved for homeless veterans. Each floor has a laundry facility, and children have access to a play area outside.

Renaissance at Xenia Village
1420 Xenia Street
This apartment complex features 77 units, most of which are one- and two-bedroom apartments. With rent ranging from $450 to $1,080, the units serve single adults, including people with mental illness and physical disabilities, and are accessible to homeless individuals and low-income households.

Renaissance Off Broadway Lofts
2135 Stout Street
It was a historic moment when the 81-unit Renaissance Off Broadway Lofts opened in 2001; this was the first new affordable-rental loft project in Denver history. (It even rated a Best New Lofts Property in that year's Best of Denver issue.) The property is open both to people experiencing homelessness and those who work downtown and can't afford more expensive options; it has a two-story parking garage for residents. Rents range from $500 to $900.

Renaissance Stout Street Lofts

2180 Stout Street
Near the Renaissance Off Broadway Lofts are the circa 2014 Stout Street Lofts, next to the Coalition's Stout Street Health Center. These 78 units are either one- or two-bedroom apartments; residents have access to an underground parking garage.

Renaissance Riverfront Lofts
3440 Park Avenue West
The Riverfront Lofts have 100 one- and two-bedroom apartments that rent for between $345 and $875. The property is noteworthy for its sustainable aspects; the common areas are powered by photovoltaic panels, while low-volatile organic compounds were used for paint, sealants and carpeting. Upon opening in 2009, Riverfront Lofts promptly won multiple awards for the sustainability aspects of its construction.

Renaissance Uptown Lofts
1509 Pearl Street
Opened in 2010 just off Colfax Avenue, the Renaissance Uptown Lofts offer 98 affordable studio apartments and one- and two-bedroom apartments to people with a range of different incomes. The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless won the Capitol Hill United Neighbors Association Good Neighbor Award in 2010 for the project. Rents range from $275 to $692.

Renaissance Downtown Lofts

2075 Broadway
First welcoming residents in 2018, the Renaissance Downtown Lofts include 101 units, the vast majority of which are one-bedroom, that cater to chronically homeless individuals participating in the Denver Social Impact Bond program, during which private organizations handed over millions of dollars to service providers to fund a supportive housing initiative. The City of Denver promised to repay (and then some) the organizations if positive results were generated, which is exactly what happened. Fourteen of these units are ADA-compliant, while the rest can be brought up to ADA code.

Renaissance West End Flats
1490 Zenobia Street
The West End Flats, which opened in 2012 next to the West End Health Center, houses 101 one- and two-bedroom apartments that cater to individuals experiencing homelessness and low-income individuals and families. Rents range from $525 to $850 a month.

PROPERTIES OUTSIDE OF DENVER
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The Renaissance Veterans Apartments at Fitzsimons.
Courtesy of Cathy Alderman
Renaissance Veterans Apartments at Fitzsimons
1753 Quentin Street, Aurora
The Renaissance Veterans Apartments at Fitzsimons include sixty units of supportive housing for veterans and their families who are either experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Each of the one- or two-bedroom units comes with a full kitchen; they have high ceilings and large windows to "create a sense of openness for residents," according to the CCH listing. The property also features an on-site medical exam room.

Renaissance at Concord Plaza
1793 Kendall Street, Lakewood

The circa 1998 Renaissance at Concord Plaza offers 76 units of transitional housing and mixed-income affordable apartment homes. There are eight one-bedroom apartments, forty two-bedroom units, 24 three-bedroom apartments and four four-bedroom apartments. Rent runs from $690 to $1,059. The property has a swimming pool, clubhouse, exercise room, playground, computer lab and laundry facilities; residents also have access to on-site case management and support services.

Renaissance at Loretto Heights
3151 West Girard Avenue, Englewood

A year before the CCH opened the Renaissance at Concord Plaza, the organization opened the Renaissance at Loretto Heights in Englewood. This project features the same number of apartments as the property at Concord Plaza and has almost all of the same amenities, except no exercise room.
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The Fort Lyon Supportive Residential Community.
Courtesy of Cathy Alderman
RUN BY THE COLORADO COALITION FOR THE HOMELESS

Fort Lyon Supportive Residential Community

30999 County Road 15, Las Animas
The CCH uses a repurposed Fort Lyon VA Hospital for the 250-person-capacity Fort Lyon Supportive Residential Community, a recovery-program campus for people experiencing homelessness. The community has an emphasis on serving veterans experiencing homelessness, and is designed to allow residents to stay for up to two years, with a goal toward long-term stability. The State of Colorado owns this site and leases it to the CCH.

Update: This story has been updated to include Denver City Council's decision to give the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless $5 million toward the La Quinta purchase.
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Conor McCormick-Cavanagh is a staff writer at Westword, where he covers a range of beats, including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves to talk New York sports.

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