Urban Land Conservancy’s (ULC) mission is to preserve develop, steward and manage permanently affordable real estate to positively impact lives and communities in Colorado. We bring more than a decade of experience and have invested over $120 million in affordable housing and community-focused real estate development. We are committed to developing assets in partnership with the communities that will be served and impacted by our work, and we value the partnerships we develop with other mission-minded entities, including government agencies and nonprofit partners, to ensure the necessary expertise and community representatives are a significant part of every one of our investments.
With these values in mind, ULC has chosen to no longer be an active partner in conceptualizing an equitable development plan for the approximately 12 acres of land adjacent to Place Bridge Academy in Denver for investments in mixed-income housing, high quality childcare, and publicly-accessible open space.
As Denver Public Schools, local elected officials and neighbors determine the best path forward for the land adjacent to Place Bridge Academy, we urge all involved to carefully consider the following:
- Denver’s affordability gap continues to rise. According to 2017 data, 122,993 households earned between 0-80% area median income (AMI). 70% of those households were classified as cost burdened (i.e., paying more than 30% of annual income for housing). In 2019, however, there were only 23,348 income-restricted units available to these households. Supply is not keeping up with demand.
- Lack of affordable housing for educators and families from within the DPS system remains of the utmost importance for Denver moving forward. According to a 2017 survey, 94% of school districts in the state of Colorado paid teachers an average salary that is less than what it costs to live in their school district.
- According to maps of income-restricted housing provided by the Department of Housing Stability, Council District 6 appears to have the least amount of income-restricted affordable housing in Denver. This area needs more designated affordable housing options to attract and retain a diversity of residents.
- As land values increase, finding solutions to Colorado’s affordable housing crisis will require creative thinking and a willingness to engage the community in shaping solutions. Land in Denver is expensive. Therefore, development of real estate that is truly affordable to families is made all the more difficult without access to affordable land in key locations. Land owned by public or nonprofit entities, such as municipalities, faith-based institutions, and school districts, can serve a critical role in helping to address the dire lack of affordable real estate in our city and region.
While ULC is disappointed that we were unable to present our vision and to meaningfully engage with the surrounding community to establish a mutually beneficial site plan, we look forward to continuing to support efforts by DPS and local elected officials to determine the best path forward with the community. ULC believes real estate is a powerful resource in the creation of truly equitable communities. With that in mind, we will continue our work to create opportunities to meet the growing need for affordable housing and other community investments throughout metro Denver.