Colo. religious groups transforming their unused land into affordable housing with a higher purpose

Faith leaders own 5,000+ acres in the metro

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AURORA, Colo. -- What Denver's St. John's Cathedral did with a church owned old parking lot has started a movement in our Colorado.

The church donated the land for a dollar to a local non-profit and transformed what was once asphalt into 50 affordable housing units for those who need it most. The complex is located in the heart of the Capitol Hill neighborhood off 14th Ave. and Washington St.

"It's sparking imagination," said Nathan Hunt with the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado. "We don't see enough happening at the state and local level and we're ready to bring our services to bear to help solve this problem."

Hunt said they are now in communication with more than 20 congregations across the state who are looking to transform their unused land into housing with a higher purpose.

"Increasingly you're seeing this movement that's not really led by anyone other than a common concern for our neighbors," he said.

Religious groups have the land to spare. Hunt said the interfaith alliance went through the data county by county and found faith organizations own more than 5,000 acres across five counties in the metro area. In Denver, the interfaith alliance found 280 acres of development land owned by church communities.

"We've also looked in other parts of the Front Range. We know in El Paso County it was over 10,000 acres owned by faith communities," explained Hunt.

The latest project is underway at Elevation Christian Church in Aurora off Alameda Parkway.

"It's about time. That's what I think," said lead pastor Scott Bloyer. "We've got an opportunity. We know that there's a crisis in our cities here in the Denver metro area that we can be a part of filling [the problem] with that property that we have just sitting there gathering weeds."

Bloyer said they partnered with the nonprofit Second Chance Center to build a 50-unit affordable housing complex on two acres directly behind their church. They are in final talks with the city of Aurora with plans to break ground later this summer.

"Jesus was kind of specific when he said love your neighbor, and it doesn't always mean the neighbor that you like," said Bloyer.

Elevation Church is one of dozens of faith groups across the state now stepping up to do their part to help in our Colorado's housing crisis.

"If we keep moving in the direction that we're moving right now, we are going to have a city that is only a place for people who look like me are able to live and that's not a city I want to live in," said Hunt.

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