$44 Million Renovation Project Complete; One of Largest in U.S.
Boulder Housing Partners (BHP) is celebrating its 50th anniversary by completing extensive renovations of 279 homes in six of its original public housing communities.
BHP is one of a select group of public housing authorities approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to recapitalize its public housing properties. By gaining local control of the properties, BHP has ensured that they are physically and financially sound so affordability can be ensured in perpetuity.
In addition to building renovations, new community centers have been built at three of the properties.
“In the past 50 years, our mission has evolved from providing housing for very low-income families to creating a platform to create opportunity for people,” said Betsey Martens, executive director. “Housing is the beginning, not the end.”
Work began last October on 279 apartments, townhomes and single family homes at six properties:
All of the properties were built in the 1970s and 1980s. Renovations included new Energy Star appliances, bathroom and kitchen overhauls, open floorplans, additional storage and new lighting. Exterior work will include new siding, roofs, windows, doors and landscaping. Improvements will meet the Enterprise Green Communities standards and City of Boulder Smart Regulations.
Residents were relocated temporarily into a unit in their building or permanently relocated with the provision of a Housing Choice voucher and moving assistance provided by BHP. Residents who moved back in after renovations continue to pay approximately 30 percent of their income in rent and utilities under a project-based Section 8 voucher program.
The Diagonal Court, Manhattan and Kalmia properties all have new community centers to provide space for education and training programs for adults and children. A prime example is the Bringing School Home program, developed 20 years ago with the “I Have a Dream” Foundation of Boulder County. Several of BHP’s public housing communities have already been transformed into campuses of learners. The results have been so compelling—93 percent graduation rates, 92 percent college enrollment--that plans are underway to expand the opportunity to every young child in BHP’s housing every year.
“By the time children are 18, they spend only 9 percent of their time in school,” Marten said. “The other 91 percent is home-centric. Housing quality, location, stability, and affordability have enormous impact on school performance.” Housing authorities can be the nexus for a comprehensive education model that brings all the disparate pieces of child and family support together, said Martens.
Martens is the first-ever Affordable Housing Institute Fellow for her pioneering research on this topic. The fellowship focuses on translating the Bringing School Home Program ideas into a national policy agenda.
At a time when the federal government is steadily disinvesting in public housing, it has become more difficult for public housing authorities to maintain properties. The national Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program gives them access to private debt and equity to rehabilitate the properties and receive a long-term Section-8 voucher. This addresses outstanding capital needs and preserves the properties as a long term source of affordable housing. Nationally, 38,000 housing units have been renovated under the RAD program. BHP’s program is currently the 6th largest.
Boulder Housing Partners assembled $44 million for the renovations and construction of three new community centers. Funding sources were Low Income Housing Tax Credit Equity and Private Activity Bonds. Partners include the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, Enterprise Community Investment and FirstBank. Renovations were managed by Palace Construction, with architectural design by Caddis Architecture and EJ Architecture.
“I can’t say enough about our BHP project team,” said Martens. “They completed a very complex program in a challenging development climate, moved nearly 200 households twice, and came in on time and on budget.”
50 Years of Public Housing
In 1965, the Boulder League of Women Voters brought a petition to City Council suggesting that the lack of safe, quality, affordable housing in Boulder was an urgent community problem. The Council created the Housing Authority of the City of Boulder in June 1966. In 1969, the authority began offering housing assistance to 37 households through a leased housing program. BHP’s first apartments were constructed in 1970. Today BHP provides housing services to nearly 2,300 households.
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