In the Spotlight
Affordable housing trailblazer returns to services she helped create
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO. – December 21st, 2018 – Greccio Housing exists to provide stable safe and supportive housing for individuals earning 80% or less of Area Median Income. January 1st, 2019, will be the official start date of Greccio Housing’s “Clean-Air Initiative,” implementing a policy that will promote the health of its residents and overall preservation of the housing units for future residents. After a year of preparation, all buildings in Greccio’s inventory will be smoke free. Kelly Jennings, Operations Director, says the organization chose to put the clean-air policy into effect as a way to prevent secondhand smoke exposure and long term damage to the buildings. “The health and well-being of residents is our top priority. A smoke-free building is safer and contributes to a better living environment,” she said. “We want Greccio to be a home all residents will enjoy,” said Jennings. Over the last several years, Greccio began to receive a large number of requests for reasonable accommodations from people who had respiratory problems; people wanting to be in an area where they would not be around cigarette smoke. In addition, turning over a smoking unit can cost two to seven times more than turning over a smoke-free unit, dramatically affecting the maintenance costs associated with providing affordable housing to the Colorado Springs community.
The availability of smoke free multi-unit housing continues to increase around the United States. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a final rule that requires Public Housing Agencies/Authorities (PHA) to adopt and implement a smoke-free policy for all public housing properties in order to protect the health and safety of all residents, and to reduce maintenance costs and fire risk. The rule went into effect on February 3, 2017. While Greccio Housing is not a HUD project exclusively, they do receive funding from HUD as part of their initial investment in a building. Lee Patke, Greccio’s Executive Director spoke to the new clean-air initiative, “We are looking at the overall health and well being of the community and the residents we serve. Safety, health, financial efficiency are all responsibilities we have as a responsible owner and steward of the vital resources we have to offer.” Patke said. “While we are not obligated by HUD to require smoke-free environments, we wholeheartedly agree with their basis for doing so, and are looking forward to January 1st. Our next step will be remediating all the smoke damage done over the years in units, hallways, and other common areas.”
Residents have been informed of the initiative with communication surrounding the clean-air guidelines beginning last year. Pamela VanOverbeke, the Program Director at Greccio Housing is excited to see the policy go into effect. She commented, “Greccio going “clean-air” gives us a great opportunity to promote a healthier environment for our residents. For anyone wanting to quit, we have resources available including cessation kits here at our office.”
For more information about Greccio Housing please call (719) 419-5599.
New 18-Unit Affordable Housing Development
Coming to Colorado Springs
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO—June 26th, 2018— With funding assistance from Ent Credit Union, City of Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado Housing Authority, and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs Division of Housing, Greccio Housing will be converting a previously commercial use building to an 18 unit (10) 1-bedroom and (8) 2-bedroom apartment complex located at 2812 E. Bijou. When completed, the total project cost will come in at just over $1.7m, and represents not only new affordable units, but 18 additional apartments to Colorado Springs’ inventory. Renovations should be completed by the end of summer, and leasing is expected to begin prior to the summer of 2019.
Greccio has grown from 9 apartments in a single property to 501 apartments and approximately 750 residents at any given time across 22 properties throughout Colorado Springs. Colorado Springs has been one of the hottest housing markets in the nation for the past several years, with no slowdown in sight. The Colorado Department of Local Affairs, State Demography Office estimates that Colorado Springs will experience an increase of more than 100,000 residents in the next seven years. In 2014, The City of Colorado Springs and El Paso County conducted an in-depth analysis of affordable housing within our community. This study concluded that there was a shortage of more than 24,500 affordable housing units for Extremely Low-Income to Moderate-Income Households. As a result of this assessment, the City made affordable housing a top priority, through infill revitalization projects, senior housing, and workforce housing development. They also stipulate that these projects must have quality designs that are compatible with existing neighborhoods.
The former Rocky Mountain Health Care building is located in a naturally occurring affordable housing area with access to public transportation and other community service providers. This development also represents investment in the important southeast part of Colorado Springs, though additional affordable housing is needed throughout the City.
From Greccio’s Executive Director, Lee Patke: “The hot housing market and increasing real estate prices are making housing less attainable and less affordable across all income levels, as well as making new affordable developments more difficult. Older models of acquiring and renovating existing properties are now cost-prohibitive, and fewer properties are on the market. In order to meet the demand of our citizens, and to stay in alignment with City priorities for attainable housing, we had to get creative. Adaptive reuse of existing buildings can be one part of a broad solution to the affordable housing needs in our community. We are thrilled to bring The Rocky Mountain apartments to Colorado Springs in 2019!”
For more information about Greccio Housing please call (719) 419-5599.
Greccio’s eviction prevention program
gives residents a second chance
Pandora Gardner was prepared to go back to living out of her car when she saw the eviction notice on her door last spring.
The 53-year-old single veteran was between jobs, earning inconsistent wages as a temp worker as she tried to find work suited to her Certified Nursing Assistant training. But with a job where the money she made was constantly fluctuating, Gardner was having trouble renewing the lease on her hard-won apartment in Colorado Springs.
A family move-in at the Bentley Commons Apartments
Greccio understands that the construction and renovation of multifamily housing impacts surrounding neighbors. Recently, Greccio has been featured in the media as part of the affordable housing conversation in our community and our efforts to meet the need. These conversations and our development efforts have sparked interest in the general public. We understand how multidimensional affordable housing is and we are dedicated to remaining mission-focused, community-minded, and transparent in our operations.
Colorado Springs has been one of the hottest housing markets in the nation for the past several years, with no slowdown in sight. The Colorado Department of Local Affairs, State Demography Office estimates that Colorado Springs will experience an increase of more than 100,000 residents in the next seven years. In 2014, The City of Colorado Springs and El Paso County conducted an in-depth analysis of affordable housing within our community. This study concluded that there was a shortage of more than 24,500 affordable housing units for Extremely Low-Income to Moderate-Income Households. As a result of this assessment, the City made affordable housing a top priority, through infill revitalization projects, senior housing, and workforce housing development. They also stipulate that these projects must have quality designs that are compatible with existing neighborhoods. One way that the City expects to fill these needs is through the encouragement of relationships between nonprofit and for-profit developers.
Greccio is committed to leading the charge in meeting the needs of our community through the revitalization and development of multifamily properties. Greccio was founded on the belief that each person has value and is deserving of a safe, stable and affordable place to live. It is with our mission in mind that Greccio is moving forward with not only expanding our portfolio, but also increasing the impact on our residents and community through our direct supportive services. Our program focus areas are: Life-skills and Education, Resident and Community Outreach, and Household Stabilization Services. Greccio seeks to impact each resident in an effort to empower them with the tools they need to live independently.
We welcome the opportunity for you to visit us at Greccio, tour our Resident Resource Center and discover more about the impact of our organization and who we serve.
2017 Eagle Award
Housing Colorado presented Greccio Housing with the prestigious Eagle Award at their annual Housing Colorado Now conference hosted in Vail, Colorado. Housing Colorado is a statewide, multi-sector membership association for affordable housing professionals. They are recognized throughout Colorado as a valuable resource, providing important information, education, advocacy, and networking services. Eagle Awards are given honoring key affordable housing leaders, programs and affordable housing projects throughout Colorado.
Residents living paycheck to paycheck often struggle to maintain secure housing and utilities while trying to cover the cost of food, clothing and medical care. When an unforeseen life crisis interrupts a family’s ability to meet basic financial obligations, everyday necessities are endangered and nonpayment of rent brings the risk of eviction. Eviction can have multiple negative consequences for families, including depression, a negative rental history, loss of social supports, poorer health, and high levels of stress. Greccio’s Eviction Prevention program can avert evictions due to the loss of income after life changing medical emergencies, death of a family member, divorce or separation. The Eviction Prevention program provides up to three months’ of financial support and intensive case management to keep families stably housed. While financial support is critical for immediate expenses, the personal support of the Case Manager is critical as the resident navigates emotional challenges, preparation for return to work, budgeting, and other stability-focused life skills.
According to the 2010 Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, “It isn’t enough to move people out of homelessness; we must keep people from falling into homelessness. The threat of homelessness most often occurs when a household has insufficient resources to cover housing costs. Unemployment, a health crisis, or the breakup of a family are the most common causes. The households most vulnerable to homelessness are those with no income or those earning significantly less than the federal poverty level.” The Colorado Springs Initiative to End Homelessness found that every chronically homeless individual costs taxpayers $57,760 each year. Greccio’s Eviction Prevention program provides our residents help through a one-time life crisis event, keeping them in affordable housing and stably housed, saving our community hundreds of thousands each year.
Since the program’s launch in October 2014, 27 families and 14 individuals were enrolled in the program. Of those 41 households, 35 successfully completed the program, 3 are currently enrolled, and only 5 were unsuccessful. 87.5% maintained their housing stability and were able to resume full control of their financial situations.
Lee Patke, Greccio Housing’s Executive Director, noted that “It’s an honor to be recognized for the work done in the lives of our residents and our community. When the paycheck of an already low-income family is lost due to an unexpected crisis, the threat of homelessness is real. Greccio exists to provide stable, safe, and supportive homes for the residents we serve, and we greatly appreciate SC Ministry Foundation for funding the Eviction Prevention pilot program. Our combined efforts have saved real people from eviction, and prevented the threat of homelessness for over 30 families, individuals, and children. From here, we hope to expand this worthwhile program.”