Denver to build 176 units affordable housing for seniors, people with disabilities

DENVER -- A new development on West Colfax will eventually have over 176 affordable housing units for seniors and people with disabilities.

It's in one of Denver's fastest developing neighborhoods, Sloan's Lake.

"I remember when this area was just the hospital and the lake, and now it's definitely gotten a lot different," said Meredith Knauf, who works in the area.

But many residents worry "different" means, well, "out with the old, in with the new."

Since it went from the old Saint Anthony's Hospital to "Slo-Hi", not everyone can keep up as rents go up.

"People just keep coming to Denver," said Bernie Duran, who said his rent has more than doubled in the last few years. "Ten years ago when I first moved here it was $450 for a one bedroom. Now, it's $865. And they're not done yet."

But on West Colfax Avenue, the Denver Housing Authority recently broke ground on a seven-story affordable housing apartment complex for seniors and people with disabilities that is scheduled to open in the summer of 2019.

It's called Vida at Sloan's: 176 one-bedroom units with an activity facility, rooftop garden and commercial space on the ground floor. Tenants would pay one third of their gross income for rent.

"It's about a $64 million price tag on this building," said Ryan Tobin, the director of Real Estate Development for the Denver Housing Authority. "It’s to serve low-income seniors or disabled residents that want to live in a fast gentrifying neighborhood, but to preserve that affordable housing and mix to the neighborhood."

Tobin said there is unlimited demand for this type of housing.

"The Housing Authority will open up a wait list at any given time, and we'll have thousands on it immediately," he said.

However, with all the urban renewal at the old Saint Anthony's Site, Denver Public Schools is seeing more students and not necessarily more money because of the Tax Increment Financing.

Tracy Huggins with the Denver Urban Renewal Authority said, "We work closely with DPS to mitigate the impacts of development, and that's why we've agreed to a $2.5 million payment over the next decade."

For more that two years, Monica Armijo has been looking for affordable housing in Denver for her mother so that she can move closer to her. 

"And then we're sent on a wild goose chase and get there thinking, 'This is going to be it!' And they're like 'No, the rent is $1,000 or $2,000. That's affordable.' Not for seniors!" said Armijo. "And that's why I was so excited about this project."

She plans to get on the wait list as soon as it opens.

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