Arroyo Village aims to serve 3 Denver populations

The Arroyo Village community is a transit-oriented development, situated next to a light-rail stop and two blocks away from the West Colfax transit corridor, providing easy and accessible transportation options for residents to get around the city. Courtesy Justin Martin Photography

D. Dontae Latson
CEO, Rocky Mountain Communities

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Built unlike any other project in Denver since the 1980s, Arroyo Village is one of the newest affordable housing communities in the area and one of the only that includes affordable housing apartments, a permanent supportive housing facility and shelter for people experiencing homelessness in Denver. The community also is unique as it is the only property in the country that incorporates housing options for all three populations in one location.

How did Arroyo Village come to be and what makes it stand out from other projects? Arroyo Village is the result of a unique partnership between Denverbased affordable housing nonprofit Rocky Mountain Communities and The Delores Project, a nonprofit that provides shelter and services for unaccompanied women and transgender individuals experiencing homelessness.

The project took five years to create from conception to the grand opening in summer 2019 and was made possible because the two organizations came together to support each other’s missions to serve the community. Prior to joining forces, both organizations had existing facilities on the property where they now work together to support one community. The Delores Project operates the shelter portion of the project and provides counseling services to the residents of the supportive housing apartments. Rocky Mountain Communities manages the entire community and provides services to families and individuals living in the affordable housing apartments.

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The complex features 130 units designed to help reduce and prevent homelessness while providing affordable housing options in a community with ever-increasing rents. Of the 130 units, 95 units are family housing and 35 units are permanent supportive housing for individuals transitioning out of homelessness, while the shelter operated by The Delores Project includes 60 beds for women and transgender individuals experiencing barriers to housing.

The housing community features one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments for families and individuals who earn up to 50% of the area median income, or about $40,000 annually for a family of four.

To qualify for a unit at The Delores Apartments, individuals must be chronically homeless, have a disability and make less than 30% of the AMI. The goal of the program is to keep individuals permanently housed in their own apartment with a traditional lease for as long as they desire while also receiving programmatic support to ensure success.

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In addition to the distinct aspects of the partnership between Rocky Mountain Communities and The Delores Project, and the uniqueness around housing three different populations in one community, the building itself incorporates several features to enrich the lives of the residents, making it stand apart from others.

The building was created with the mission of Rocky Mountain Communities in mind – to build brighter futures by investing in resident focused affordable housing and services, empowering individuals and families to thrive. Aspects of the community were built to support residents and enrich their lives to help them work their way through affordable housing into traditional housing. Some of the typical resident service programs include, but are not limited to: after-school programming, senior services, counseling, arts and crafts, computer lab access, workforce training, mentoring and financial services. However, we believe that resident services produce better outcomes when residents are fully engaged in the process of determining the programs offered based on their needs. A proper and thorough assessment will be the next step prior to implementing on-site resident services at Arroyo Village.

The building includes a large lobby with a community kitchen and community tables to host events and for residents to use. The lobby also includes a food pantry where residents can procure fresh produce and nonperishable goods for their own kitchens.

The complex includes a large classroom that opens up to a large interior courtyard to be used for resident driven programming and support services. Services will be determined by the needs of the residents but often include free after-school homework help for kids, summer programs for kids, exercise classes for adults and other opportunities that enrich or support residents’ lives.

The interior courtyard at the property has picnic tables for residents. A large new playground is being built adjacent to the building by the city of Denver.

The city of Denver recognizes the vital role that transportation plays in helping to ensure that residents have an opportunity to get to and from their place of employment, access to health care and other important services. A transit-oriented development site is now defined as that which is within a half-mile of transit corridors with easy access to job centers. The Arroyo Village community, which is a TOD site, is situated next to a light-rail stop and two blocks away from the West Colfax transit corridor, providing easy and accessible transportation options for residents to get around the city.

The green community was built with the opportunity to add solar panels to the roof.

Arroyo Village addresses every affordable housing issue in Denver. Additionally, the building is helping to preserve affordable housing options in the Villa Park neighborhood of Denver, which is rapidly being redeveloped.

While one housing community could never address all the need in a given city, Arroyo Village is a small step in helping Denver residents grow out of affordable housing and into traditional housing, making way for new residents down the road.

Featured in CREJ’s February 2020 Multifamily Properties Quarterly

Edited by the Colorado Real Estate Journal staff.