Projects to provide housing to low-income seniors and the chronically homeless are among four Longmont efforts that will receive a funding boost from Boulder County.
Two other local facility improvement projects for community organizations also are among 21 that received a share of $3 million in Worthy Cause Pool Fund grants announced Thursday.
This year marks the third for distribution of the grants that are funded by a 15-year .05% Worthy Cause tax that was approved by voters in 2018, according to the county.
Housing for the homeless
The Boulder Shelter for the Homeless received $500,000 for a planned 55-unit permanent supportive housing project to be built on land near The Suites, an 82-unit Longmont Housing Authority supportive housing complex. Greg Harms, CEO of the Boulder Shelter, said the Housing Authority, the city and Element Properties also are partners in the project.
Element Properties has an option to purchase the land on which the project will be located and the Longmont Housing Authority will be the property manager once it is built, Kathy Fedler, Longmont Housing and Community Investment Division manager, said via email. The city also may provide additional funding for the project, such as development fee waivers, but nothing has been requested yet, she said.
The Boulder Shelter, which serves all of Boulder County, has permanent supportive housing in Boulder but not in Longmont, and the project — for which there is not yet a timeline — will rectify that, Harms said.
“We desire to have our resources spread across the county,” he said.
There are 80 permanent supportive housing units in Longmont now, Fedler said. A study commissioned by the Consortium of Cities identified a need for 200 such units in Boulder County, she said.
Residents of the supportive housing will be among the most vulnerable chronically homeless, Harms said. The project will be based on the “housing first” approach, the goal of which is to get people into housing as quickly as possible and then provide wraparound support, such as employment, mental health and addiction help, so people’s lives can be stable, he said.
Residents will pay one-third of their income in rent.
The project is part of the Boulder Shelter’s larger goal of adding 150 more supportive housing units over the next several years, Harms said.
When the project will be complete remains in flux as funding is not yet secured, he said.
Housing for seniors
Another housing project, this one serving low-income seniors, received $200,000.
The grant will help with construction of 25 apartments on the campus of Senior Housing Options Cinnamon Park Assisted Living Residences and offers potential for a continuum of care, said CEO Jim Goddard.
The two-story building will include four studio and 21 one-bedroom apartments for seniors with incomes of 60% or less of area median income, Goddard said. Some units will be for those earning 50, 40 or 30% of AMI, he said.
Based on 2020 AMI, 60% for a single individual would equal $48,360 and 30% would be $24,180, according to Boulder Housing Partners.
“We’re really trying to serve the very low income,” Goddard said of the project being developed by MGL Partners and built by B.C. Builders. The architect for the $8.7 million project, which is expected to begin leasing in March 2022, is EJ Architecture. Construction, which is anticipated to start in the spring, will cost an estimated $4.9 million of that total, Goddard said.
The city also has awarded $250,000 to the project from its Affordable Housing Fund as a 40-year, no-interest loan, Fedler said. It is reviewing another application for the same amount, which will be presented to city council for final determination on Jan. 26, she said.
The project also received a 9% low-income housing tax credit. The tax credits are awarded to developers of qualified projects who then sell the credits to investors to raise capital for their projects, “which reduces the debt that the developer would otherwise have to borrow,” according to the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority. “Because the debt is lower, a tax credit property can, in turn, offer lower, more affordable rents. If the property maintains compliance with the program requirements, investors receive a dollar-for-dollar credit against their federal tax liability each year over a period of 10 years.”
Goddard called the tax credit a win-win for nonprofits and their equity partners.
Financing for the Longmont project is expected to close in March, he said, adding the Worthy Cause money from the county “allows us to close the gap to make this project happen.”
Pool, parking at YMCA
The YMCA of Northern Colorado received $500,000 in Worth Cause money that will be split between two locations, one in Longmont and one in Lafayette. The money for the Lafayette Y, $200,000, will be used to help cover the construction of an addition to house the Head Start program that was completed last year, said Executive Director Chris Coker.
The remaining $300,000 will go toward pool and parking lot improvements at the Ed & Ruth Lehman Y on Lashley Street.
The cement pool and its mechanics are sound but the plaster coating on the widely used pool is flaking off, the ceiling is rusted because of a now-fixed roof leak and the deck, walls and ceiling beams need repairs, Coker said.
While a pool might not seem like a critical need, Coker said it serves a crucial purpose — saving children’s lives. Drowning is a leading cause of death for children nationwide, according to the American Red Cross. Ten people die each day from unintentional drowning and on average two of them are younger than 14, and drowning is responsible for more deaths among children ages 1 to 4 than any other cause except birth defects, according to the Red Cross. Because of those sobering statistics, Coker said the Y’s mission is to teach as many children as possible how to swim.
The parking lot, which Coker described as “horrible” and in which he joked he could see settlers’ wagon ruts, is not as crucial but still is important, particularly when it comes to first impressions.
Combined the projects exceed the Worthy Cause grant by more than $500,000 and the YMCA’s program council will make the hard decision on how best to use the county money, Coker said.
Normally, the Y would have reserves to draw upon to match the county grant dollar for dollar, but COVID has taken its toll.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the Y was losing about $300,000 a month, Coker said. “We’ve stymied that, but we’re still losing a ton of money each month, about $150,000 to $175,000, because the services we offer to youth are running at a significant loss.”
The pandemic prompted many who were able to stay home and not enroll their children in YMCA programs. Those parents are the ones that can afford such programs, though, while other families with more limited means cannot afford tuition but need the programs the most. Often if those parents stay home with their children, they can’t work, which means they can’t afford vital expenses such as food, rent or car repairs and if they opt to leave their children home alone, “bad things happen,” he said.
“So the Y made the commitment to burn through its reserves” and tap into its line of credit to serve those families, Coker said.
New space for ACL
The Association for Community Living received $50,000 for debt relief on its new facility at 624 Coffman St.
The Association for Community Living is an independent advocacy organization for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, or IDD, that was founded in Boulder in 1962. “Longmont continues to be home to the largest number of people with IDD in Boulder County and many of the people ACL serves live within city limits,” Executive Director Ailsa Wonnacott said via email. “ACL relocated to Longmont for this reason.”
The nonprofit found the downtown location with help from Danny Lindau of the Colorado Group, Wonnacott said. It offers good RTD links to meet the diverse accessibility needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, but it required a full internal remodel, she said.
The remodel, which couldn’t have happened without architect Peter Stewart JVA Consulting Engineers and Greer Construction, according to Wonnacott, included adding internal and external ramps, a stairlift, removing walls to create open plan/multi-use spaces, and adding two fully accessible bathrooms, an accessible kitchen, an outside meeting area and accessible parking.
The pandemic slowed construction, but the ACL's new home is now operational. It is, however, using the space sparingly since people with IDD are at high risk for COVID and ACL is providing most services remotely, she said.
Correction: The decimal point was originally misplaced in the $1.25 million total in grants that went to Longmont projects.