The Neighborhood Development Collaborative (NDC) was founded in 2009 to address the foreclosure crisis by administering funds from the federal “Neighborhood Stabilization Program”. Nearly 10 years since its inception, and the 501(c)3 community development corporation has successfully built a strong capacity to advocate effectively for its members. NDC is a coalition of Denver-based affordable housing and community development organizations, acting as a central resource for communication and collaboration between its member organizations, Urban Land Conservancy (ULC) is a proud founding member.
Today, NDC has 13 member organizations including: Del Norte, Habitat for Humanity Metro Denver, DURA, Archway, Northeast Denver Housing Center, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, NEWSED, CRHDC, Rocky Mountain Communities, Colorado Community Land Trust, Colorado Housing Assistance Corporation, Denver Housing Authority and ULC. Each member plays a critical role in cross-organizational collaboration to increase Metro Denver’s affordable housing options.
While NDC’s members work in similar industries and often share mutual goals, they remain a diversified group. Some organizations, such as Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, work specifically to address homelessness and provide long-term, sustainable solutions for the future. Others, like Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver, provide affordable for-sale housing to Denver’s workforce. Habitat operates under the belief that everyone deserves a safe and stable place to call home, and they fulfill their mission through the help of fundraising and volunteers.
“Your home is your safe-space,” explained Heather Lafferty, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver. “It is your place of rest, recuperation and rejuvenation. Numerous studies show that having a place to live is the linchpin of an individual’s social, economic and psychological stability–and that insecure housing has an especially negative impact on children. Habitat is honored to partner with ULC and the other NDC member organizations to give more Metro Denver families and individuals an affordable place to call home.”
Jonathan Cappelli of Cappelli Consulting has served as the Executive Director of NDC for nearly three years. His consulting firm, which focuses on program management, urban planning and nonprofit capacity building services has led him to work with organizations like NDC on issues ranging from housing policy to community development. Cappelli has watched NDC grow over the past nine years, and attributes the coalition’s many successes to the active collaboration between member organizations.
“Because we work hard to encourage and facilitate collaboration between our member organizations, NDC has become a critical tool for the affordable housing community,” says Cappelli. “Working in individual silos unnecessarily pits organizations against each other, slows the spread of information and when confronted with new opportunities, constrains responses to the capacity of individual organizations, rather than the capacity of the whole affordable housing sector. NDC circumvents this issue by acting as a hub for cooperation and communication, which has led to a number of successful housing policy, education, development, and programmatic collaborations over the past nine years.”
One of NDC’s primary functions is to act as a resource to the affordable housing community through both advocacy and active representation. Between 2009 and 2017, NDC successfully invested $5 million from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) allowing members to use the funds for preservation, rehabilitation, rental assistance and housing counseling. NDC strongly advocated for the creation of Denver’s Affordable Housing Fund, which will allocate more than $150 million towards the creation and preservation of over 6,000 units of affordable housing in the next 10 years. The Denver City Council approved the creation of this Fund in September 2016, recognizing the vast need for resources to preserve and develop affordable housing options.
Despite their many successes since 2009, NDC recognizes the inherent challenges related to affordable housing and nonprofit facilities in Metro Denver. Cappelli explained the difficulty in both ensuring metro area municipalities take a goal oriented approach to the housing crisis as well as convincing them to bring nonprofit organizations on the front end of conversations. Cappelli explained the importance of including affordable housing nonprofits in these policy discussions so we can act proactively instead of reactively.
Moving forward, NDC believes it is critical that the nonprofit development community works together to reduce the number of households and businesses getting displaced by the high cost of rent in Metro Denver. According to Shift Research Lab, 50 percent of Colorado renters are cost burdened, meaning they spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. NDC plans to actively work with the City of Denver and other metro municipalities to identify methods to either slow, freeze or reverse the housing crisis. NDC also aims to increase their membership to include more metro-area affordable housing nonprofits.
While there is much more work to be done in addressing the region’s rapid rate of displacement affecting both households and businesses, we feel hopeful in NDC’s role in leading policy initiatives and working towards making Metro Denver a more equitable region.