Regional Call to Action Brings Community Together Around Gentrification and Displacement
On April 19th nearly 200 participants came together, unified by a common concern about the lack of affordability in Denver and ready to delve into ways to work together to stem the tide of gentrification and displacement across the region.
An all-star group of speakers included Holliday Aguilar (GES), Norma Brambila (Westwood), Maria Ceballos (Arvada), Yolanda McCloud (Aurora), Teresa Valdivia (GES) and Darrell Watson (Whittier) sharing their on-the ground experiences around gentrification and displacement in their own communities. These neighborhood leaders were joined by HUD Regional Administrator Rick Garcia, Denver City Council President Paul Lopez, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kelly Brough, ULC Director of Master Site Development Will Kralovec and Servicios de la Raza Executive Director Rudy Gonzales, who provided their own perspectives around why these issues are critical to the health and economic vibrancy of the region.
MHC also released their new Access to Opportunity Platform, which captures 10 recommendations based on national best practice and a set of concrete policy and implementation strategies under each recommendation vetted for their relevance and applicability at a Denver regional level.
The next convening, moving to action, will be May 7th from 9am – 12pm at United Church of Montbello (4879 Crown Blvd.). All are welcome. Click here for invitation.
Exploring Connections Between Anchor Institutions Near Transit
Mile High Connects, The Denver Foundation, The Colorado Health Foundation and Gary Community Investments co-hosted a learning session with over 20 CEOs and high level leaders of anchor institutions in the fields of health care, education and government located near transit throughout the region.
National speaker Steve Dubb of the Democracy Collaborative described the potentially transformative role of anchor institutions in connecting with community, creating job opportunities for local workers, supporting local business through procurement and investing in community development. The Denver Foundation’s investments in the Community Campus Partnership and Regis University anchor institution efforts were also highlighted. Ten institutions in attendance signed on to continue the conversation.
Those interested in learning more should contact Dace West at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MHC Grant Fund
We are excited to release our funding guidelines for the Equitable Initiatives in The Denver Region grant fund for 2016. The deadline for applications is June 1, 2016, 5:00 MT.
We will offer one more grant application workshop in 2016. Workshops are open to organizations and groups interested in learning more about the application process; please note that attending a grant workshop is not a requirement of the overall grant application process. Please RSVP to Davian Gagne, Grants & Operations Manager at email@example.com with your name and contact information of staff members interested in attending. Click here for the application.
9to5 transit organizer Dre Chiriboga-Flor went on a retreat to Chicago to share ideas and tactics around anti-gentrification strategies. Over 50 most grassroots organizations from about 37 different cities, including cities in Canada and Spain, came together for 3 days. Topics including building intersectional movements on a national level, renter’s rights campaigns such as Just Cause Eviction and Rent Control, community land trusts, development without displacement, eviction defense, corporate landlords and more. Participants walked away with countless new networks, campaign models, and a sense of community on a national level.
Grand Opening of Park Hill Station
On Thursday, April 21, developer DelWest hosted the Grand Opening of Park Hill Station, a 156-unit affordable rental community along the new University of Colorado A Line running between Union Station and DIA. A variety of MHC partners were instrumental in this success – the Urban Land Conservancy acquired the property several years back utilizing the Denver Regional TOD Fund, which is administered by Enterprise Community Partners and includes a multitude of MHC partners as investors. MHC partner Wells Fargo was also the equity investor in the development of the building, purchasing the Low Income Housing Tax Credits. CBS news picked up the story here.
MHC hosted a series of meetings on April 26 and 27 designed to increase the flow of public, private, and philanthropic capital into affordable housing and community facilities near transit. Over 30 representatives organized into teams from seven different municipalities throughout the region gathered to identify shared priorities, talk through pipelines of emerging developments, and discussed policy and financial solutions that might move those pipelines from ideas into action. The following morning, a team of impact investors ranging from public agencies to local foundations to banks and CDFIs discussed how we might work together to develop a couple specific scalable financial tools to accelerate the development and preservation of affordable housing and community-focused commercial facilities. Both discussions left MHC and our many partners with several concrete ideas to move forward this year!
First and Last Mile Connections
Based on the nomination from Mile High Connects, the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) selected Comunidades Unidos as a recipient of the 2016 Metro Vision Award. DRCOG Vice Chair and Aurora City Councilman Bob Roth presented the award at DRCOG’s annual awards celebration, April 27 at the Westin Denver International Airport. Several members of the community attended the ceremony through the sponsorship of the National Western Stockshow.
According to DRCOG, Comunidades Unidos was selected because of the inspirational nature of its work. In partnership with GES LiveWell and MHC, Comunidades Unidas trained residents to conduct an audit and analysis of bus routes and bus-stop conditions. The results helped community members prioritize and advocate for improvements through public planning processes and directly with transportation and government entities. The community successfully garnered commitments in excess of $600,000 to improve infrastructure. Beyond the improvements to transit access and facilities, the project has empowered the community to address challenges and created a legacy of civic involvement for its residents.
Through its Metro Vision Awards, DRCOG recognizes the projects, plans and programs that significantly improve the quality of life in the Denver region and its communities; according to its member governments’ shared vision for growth and development. The regional council has been honoring outstanding achievements for more than 30 years.
PLACES Site Visit
Davian Gagne, Grants & Operations Manager, recently visited Minneapolis, Minnesota as part of The Funders Network Professionals Learning About Community, Equity, and Smart Growth (PLACES) fellowship program. Along with leaders from the Surdna Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation, San Diego Foundation, and many other philanthropic organizations, Davian spent three days learning about the opportunities, challenges, and work of local foundations and nonprofits in Minneapolis. Kate Wolford, CEO of the McKnight Foundation, spent time with the group sharing the work of the foundation and their collaborative approach to projects such as the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative. During a tour of north Minneapolis, leaders from the Hmong and Black communities, organizers, and community members highlighted the assets and stark challenges of the predominantly low-income neighborhood. Through a new funders collaborative, the Northside Funders Group, initiatives are being implemented in north Minneapolis to interrupt the 50% unemployment rate of Black men there by enhancing job skills and connecting residents to workforce opportunities. The three days provided insight on equity, illustrated the continued impact of systemic racism, and provided the foundation for the remainder of the fellowship. The next visit will be in late June 2016 to Hartford, Connecticut where more learning and capacity building around equitable community development will take place.