Many Colorado families are just one triggering event away from homelessness or housing instability. An unexpected medical procedure, for example, or unforeseen car repair might mean they can’t pay rent. Longstanding Colorado nonprofit Warren Village aims to help families get out ahead of those challenges with a new two-year pilot program at a Denver apartment complex.
Through the program, Warren Village staffers hope to work with at least 15 families who live in the Ivy Crossing apartments on South Quebec Street and earn less than 80 percent of the area’s median income. The nonprofit provides on-site and remote mentoring and coaching. The overarching goal, however, is to improve the families’ stability and self-sufficiency. Offering workshops with topics covering life skills, budgeting and finances, conflict resolution, parenting, employment, mental health, and education may offer a fresh start for many.
“We have a model that works well—we’ve been here in Denver almost 50 years—and we simply want to do more to meet the needs of families who are in crisis,” says Ethan Hemming, president and CEO of Warren Village, which was founded in 1974.
As soon as it’s safe to do so during the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ll also provide after-school programming to residents’ children and offer parenting resources to help with their children’s developmental, behavior, and mental health issues. In addition to the 15 core families, Warren Village will also provide support and referrals to any of the 1,023-unit complex’s residents.
The pilot program, which is a collaboration with real estate investment and property management company BLDG Management, marks the first time that Warren Village has extended its services to a fair market-rate apartment complex that’s owned and operated by another company. Until now, the organization has worked exclusively with the low-income, single-parent families who live at its two metro-area rental properties—a 93-unit complex in Capitol Hill and an 11-unit building in northwest Denver.
“We want to support and stabilize [families], and that’s what we do at our campuses,” Hemming says. “When we started thinking about other ways that we can grow, the most obvious is to build another building, but we realized there are other ways to do it. One is working with corporate partners who manage housing.”
In addition to supporting families, the project also aims to benefit BLDG Management by lowering tenant turnover rates. BLDG Management is supplying some funding for the pilot program, along with Warren Village, the Colorado Health Foundation, and the Carmel Classic Charity Golf Tournament; the organizations are still seeking a long-term, sustainable funding source to sustain and grow the program in the future.
Warren Village is also actively pursuing other ways to expand its services. The organization is competing for approval to build a 74-unit supportive, affordable housing property on two parcels of land in southwest Denver. If successful, the longer-term initiative would come to fruition in the next two to three years, says Hemming. The nonprofit is also converting its 11-unit northwest Denver property into apartments for teen mothers this winter.
This is just the beginning. The organization hopes to replicate the Ivy Crossing pilot program at other Denver apartments—if it’s a success. “It is our honor to be able to do this type of work that’s grounded in the community,” Hemming says. “This is really about opportunity. Everybody has the inherent capacity to thrive in our society—and some folks simply need a little bit more support.”