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 November 2020 Partner Spotlight of the Month: Housing Colorado

Housing Colorado is an industry resource for all aspects of affordable housing, including professional advocacy, issue expertise, and networking opportunities. As Colorado’s affordable housing industry association, they exist so that “home” does not equate to hardship, which is especially relevant in Colorado as one of the fastest growing states in the nation. Housing Colorado aims to be a unified voice promoting the preservation and production of quality affordable housing for low and moderate income Coloradans through statewide education and advocacy in order to build a strong economy and healthy communities. 

In an effort to strengthen, improve, and grow the affordable housing industry, Housing Colorado focuses on three primary goals: education, networking, and advocacy. To keep both the general public and affordable housing advocates educated and up to date on public policy, they host events throughout the year (such as the Eagle Awards Gala and the Legislative Luncheon), hold the Housing Colorado annual conference each fall, and provide necessary funding to research initiatives. 

One such initiative was Shift Research Lab’s 2018 Report: Exploring Colorado’s Housing Affordability Challenges in All of Their Complexity. The report, which details the many factors contributing to Colorado’s housing crisis, was primarily funded by Housing Colorado.

Two years later the housing crisis has only grown and will continue to worsen especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Elena Wilkin, Housing Colorado’s Executive Director, knows the organization’s work is even more important now. “The key to economic recovery is to keep building housing units,” she says. “Housing Colorado will be working on ensuring that development and construction can proceed and that property management provides support and stability for vulnerable families. This will require fierce advocacy, firm convictions, and strong partnerships.”   

Housing Colorado’s advocacy work has been crucially important this year, “Housing Colorado, along with partner organizations, has been working to prevent evictions and foreclosures,” says Wilkin. “We’ve advocated at the state and federal level for eviction moratoriums coupled with rental and mortgage assistance. While we have been effective – providing protections for Coloradoans through December 31 – many continue to worry that evictions may increase in January once the moratoriums are lifted and the funding runs out.”

Wilkin also shares, “we remain true to our mission of providing advocacy and professional development for the affordable housing community. What has changed is our delivery – hosting virtual events instead of in person and meeting with legislators and advocates virtually instead of in person.”

Dr. Tiffany Manuel

Earlier in October, Housing Colorado successfully shifted their largest annual conference to a virtual event. Dr. Tiffany Manuel, PhD, opened the 2020 Housing Colorado Conference as the keynote speaker and said, “This is a moment to go big and have transformational work in the affordable housing industry.” Dr. Manuel continued to explain the problematic mindset of individuals who respond to lack of affordable housing, saying “I’m one of the lucky ones who can afford to live here.” She emphasized the need to “bring those bystanders out of the politics of ‘lucky’ and into the conversation around equity and inclusion.” She continued, “housing is adaptive work that heads a whole host of stakeholders that have to be aligned. We need to build systems to support people so everyone can be lucky … Name that moment: this is the opportunity to acknowledge that racial and equity problems are adaptive, not technical. Now is the moment to tackle these problems.” 

The conference had 16 different workshops to choose from ranging from “Making Coordinated Entry Work for a Supportive Housing Community” to “Private Activity Bonds—State of the State” to “Creating an Equitable Vision of Growth for Colorado; Learnings from Policy Analysis and Public Opinion Research.” Participants learned of industry updates on how the markets are reacting in light of the pandemic and on how deals are still continuing to get done. If you attended the conference, you can still access the videos in the conference portal until December, 31st. 

To learn more about Housing Colorado, visit their site here.