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Local Housing Authority Redesigns Mixed-Use Building into Mixed-Income Affordable Housing

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Steve Kunshier

By Steve Kunshier

In August 2020, Colorado-based Maiker Housing Partners broke ground on Caraway, a one-of-a-kind multifamily, mixed-income housing development located in unincorporated Adams County. As construction progresses and the project comes to life, Caraway has become much more than a new housing option for Adams County residents—it is a regional demonstration of how a public private partnership can be maximized to overcome the barriers facing the development of affordable housing.

Adams County is one of the fastest growing counties in Colorado. With this growth, the county has experienced rising housing costs, higher unemployment rates and higher poverty rates when compared with the rest of the state. Today, a person working full time needs to earn $27.27 an hour to pay rent on a two-bedroom unit in Adams County. These challenges combined with the extreme financial stressors of COVID-19 have put many long-time residents at an acute risk for homelessness.

Caraway is filling the gap by providing necessary housing options for individuals struggling to afford housing in the county. When complete, Caraway will service households earning between 30 and 70 percent of the area median income. Notably, Caraway is also Maiker’s first opportunity to adaptively reuse an existing office building donated by Adams County. The development repurposes the former Children and Family Services building into 44 units with an additional 72 units added on.

“This is the first time in the history of the housing authority and Adams County government that we’ve received a donated building,” said Peter LiFari, executive director of Maiker Housing Partners. “It gives us the ability to demonstrate to the citizens of Adams County what a housing authority and county government can provide for the community when we leverage our intrinsic strengths to create affordable housing.”

There are numerous benefits—both economic and environmental—to incorporating adaptive reuse into housing developments. Andrew Chapin, senior housing developer with Maiker, noted the cost of demolition of the Caraway site outweighed the benefits of starting fresh. Instead of spending an estimated $1 million on demolition, Maiker saw opportunity in the building’s existing
structure.

Beyond affordability, adaptive reuse is an environmentally sustainable option for cities and towns across the country. Reusing existing structures reduces the number of materials needed to build as well as the energy required to demolish and construct a new building. It can also preserve an important piece of community history—something that Maiker was cognizant of
throughout this process.

“Our goal for this project was to draw inspiration from and pay homage to the previous use of the site, celebrating the families, staff and previous public investment,” said LiFari. “With their input and partnership, we’ve accomplished the goal of breathing new life into Caraway.”

Maiker’s mission of disrupting generational poverty through socially conscious community development was critical to the formation of the partnership with Adams County. In the planning process, Maiker was intentional about creating spaces to foster community. In line with their mission, Maiker is reserving 12 of the 116 apartment units for youth aging out of foster care to address the high risk of homelessness these youth face.

“What’s most important to the County is being able to give our children and youth in foster care a place to live when they age of out of it,” said Eva Henry, Adams County Commissioner. To support these community members, Maiker will work in partnership with Adams County’s Children and Family Services (CFS) team to provide case management and support services for residents ages 18-25. Members will also receive access to resources through Maiker’s Family & Community Vitality program.

When the project is complete, Caraway will offer one, two and three-bedroom options with amenities like a playground, dog park, fitness studio and rooftop patio with an incredible view of Pikes Peak. Construction is expected to be completed Fall 2021.

“Throughout the planning process, we thought about more than just the building itself. It was important for us to consider what the building can actually provide to individuals in helping them pursue their own version of the American dream,” said LiFari. “It will now continue to serve Adams County as a vibrant community of affordable homes for generations to come.”

Steve Kunshier is director of housing development at Maiker Housing Partners. Maiker is disrupting generational poverty through socially conscious community development in Adams County. The public housing authority is committed to addressing the systemic injustice that is the root of poverty by creating a pipeline of high-quality affordable housing.

Rendering courtesy of Maiker Housing Partners

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