Denver Area Investors Want to Get Moving on Community Land Trust

Downtown Denver (Photo by Ian Freimuth on flickr)

A community land trust with the goal of acquiring 700 homes throughout the Denver area may be ready to move on to another Colorado city, Westworld reports.

In December, Elevation Community Land Trust approached the city in search of both single-family houses and condos. By then, the trust had already raised $24 million in private capital and was hopeful of acquiring another $23 million in contributions from local governments — Denver’s new $150 million dedicated housing fund looked like one promising source — as well as $11 million from private partners and donations.

But according to Westworld, discussions between the trust and the city have lagged in recent months, and Elevation’s backers aren’t sure where they fall in the city’s housing priorities anymore. The trust is now discussing its proposal with other municipalities, including Westminster, Aurora and Adams County, all of which are potentially willing to provide land and the additional dollars.

“I’m disappointed that it’s moving so slowly [with Denver],” Dave Younggren, CEO of Elevation partner Gary Community Investments told the news site. ”After we did the [December 7] presentation, we were anxious to move forward and thinking that it’d be a fairly accelerated process, but then the city had the realignment, with housing moved under the Office of Economic Development — that really slowed things down. Now we’re not quite sure where the process is.”

As Next City has covered, Denver is one of the fastest growing metros in the U.S. and officials estimated last year that the city needs at least 21,000 more affordable units to meet current demand. In 2016, the city passed its landmark plan of raising $150 million over 10 years for affordable housing (although some officials claim that figure isn’t nearly enough to meet regional demand). Other strategies pursued by city have included a rent “buy-down” program, in which the city would purchase empty high-end apartments and subsidize their rents for lower-income families, the creation of a new Office of Housing & Opportunities for People Everywhere, or HOPE for short, and a comprehensive plan prioritizing tenants’ rights and landlord regulations.

A community land trust, or CLT, would have fit into those plans by acquiring land through either a purchase or public transfer, and then leasing homes built on it to families or developers. Because the family or developer would need to purchase only the building (rather than the building plus the land), that home would likely be more affordable than its conventional counterpart.

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