Urban Land Conservancy celebrates the achievements of our partnerships that create and preserve nonprofit facilities and affordable housing for communities.
ULC’s Monthly Partner Spotlight shines a light on partners who demonstrate the value of collaboration, furthering our mission to improve the lives of Metro Denver residents and beyond through our real estate investments and community assets.
Congratulations to our October 2020 Partner Spotlight of the Month: Chanele Richardson!
Born and raised in Denver, Chanele Richardson has witnessed the growing lack of affordable housing in Colorado, firsthand. Thirteen of her 18 years working in the industry have been in the affordable housing arena. Since 2010, she has worked at Echelon Property Group, and is currently serving as the Senior Regional Manager for a diverse portfolio of multifamily communities, ranging from market to Low Income Tax Credit.
“I never planned to end up in the apartment industry, but the stars aligned for me when I began looking for a job after having a baby,” said Richardson. “I was a young mom, and trying to find a place where we could afford rent while searching for a career path. I started working in housing after realizing it would allow me to both help people and get a discount on rent.”
Since that time, Richardson has developed exceptional onsite knowledge, tax credit expertise, and a commitment to creating happy communities. As a Senior Regional Manager, Richardson specializes in building and motivating strong teams, repositioning properties, maintaining quality affordable housing, and maximizing Net Operating Income for owners. She also obtained her Housing Credit Certified Professional in 2019 and continues her commitment to affordable housing by being a member of the Apartment Association of Metro Denver’s Affordable Housing Committee.
“It’s important to me to build strong teams full of diverse people who reflect the communities we serve,” said Richardson. “We have some managers that started off living in our properties, so they really understand what people are going through in finding affordable housing. We also hope we can serve as examples of what this housing can do for people.”
Richardson first became acquainted with ULC during development of the Evans Station Lofts in 2013. In partnership with Medici, ULC developed 50 permanently affordable housing units near the Evans Station transit line. She once again partnered with us for our Walnut Street Lofts development, which is held in ULC’s 99 year ground lease to ensure permanent affordability.
“We wanted this project to not only provide a high-quality living environment for the residents but to be a positive catalyst for future development of the surrounding community,” said Troy Gladwell, founder and principal, Medici Communities. “Chanele and her team were a big part of creating that community driven environment.”
“What I appreciate about ULC and Medici is that your affordable housing doesn’t look like affordable housing. These look like market-rate dwellings,” said Richardson.
Going beyond her duties of property management, Chanele implemented extensive marketing within the communities at risk of displacement to ensure families knew the affordable developments were coming to their areas, thus offering them ample time to apply for the highly sought apartments.
“At both at Evans Station, in Denver’s Overland Park, and Walnut Street Lofts in the Cole Neighborhood, Chanele went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure both communities knew the developments were coming to proactively combat displacement within each neighborhood” said Aaron Miripol. “We are extremely grateful for all of her work.”
Between Chanele’s marketing efforts and the work of ULC’s community engagement team, around 30% of the apartments at Walnut Lofts were leased by members of the Cole community and 80205 zip code who were at risk of displacement. Now that the complex is at full occupancy and fully operational, Richardson focuses on creating a welcoming community atmosphere.
Walnut Lofts has several murals, both inside and outside of the building, to bring color as well as a sense of hope and community. “Murals modernize a space and connect an apartment building, like this, to the outside world. They give people a reason to look our way,” said Richardson. Additionally, Richardson and her managers organize events, like ice cream socials and Santa visits, for residents. “A lot of these kids don’t have activities outside of school, so we want to make sure we’re creating a welcoming community for them where they live.”
Richardson hopes that more affordable housing will be developed in Denver. “I also hope that affordable housing like Walnut Lofts will continue to be a positive reflection of our city. Affordable housing should be good quality housing, and I think we’re a positive example of that.”