World Half Full
Old hotel converted for homeless
In Denver, Colorado, it’s estimated there are at least 5,700 homeless people. And with many more living in long-term poverty, the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) decided to buy and convert a former hotel into affordable housing. The old Quality Inn & Suites, now known as Fusion Studios and bought for US$8.4 million — secured with private, city and state funds — provides 139 micro-apartments for individuals or couples who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Fusion Studios is the seventeenth building the coalition has opened to help the homeless in the last three decades.
“The project was really born out of desperation,” CCH president John Parvensky said. “We were scratching our heads trying to figure out how we can shorten the time period so that the people who are on the streets tonight have a place to call their home as quickly as possible.”
Since Denver passed an urban camping ban, which was ruled unconstitutional by a Denver County judge, yet still enforced by the city pending appeals, Parvensky set out to create an affordable housing option to help solve the problem.
Fusion Studios provides move-in ready apartments, each fully-furnished and starting at 27 square metres, including a private bathroom and kitchenette. A food pantry will also be available to residents. There’s 24-hour security staff including a front desk attendant, a full-time property manager, an assistant property manager, housekeeping and maintenance staff.
“This really shows what we can do when we get creative about problem-solving and affordable housing,” Gov. Jared Polis said, adding the coalition’s six-month revamp is an “example of cutting through the red tape . . . at a teeny fraction of the cost of building something new and a teeny fraction of the time.”
The CCH will join forces with Denver Health and the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative and others to fill the rooms on a “rolling basis” requiring residents to only pay 30 percent of their income for rent. Up to 25 of the rooms will be specifically used for people “needing stability” before moving into permanent housing, The Colorado Springs Gazette reported.
“I truly hope we can replicate this model and these partnerships at other sites in Denver and get more of our people housed affordably,” Britta Fisher, executive director of Denver’s Department of Housing Stability (HOST), said.
More than 900 city-supported affordable units are under construction across the city.
ABOVE Some of Fusion Studios' new residents
PHOTO Dennis Schroeder