Colorado Community Spotlights

 

FHLBank Topeka's mission is to partner with our members to make a difference in communities throughout Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Here are some examples of our partnerships in action.

 

 

 

Aurora, Colorado

Affordable Housing Program Grant

 

Homeless and at-risk veterans in Aurora, Colorado, now have a place to call home thanks to a long-standing partnership between The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) and Mercy Community Capital.

The Renaissance Veterans Apartments at Fitzsimons features spacious hallways, high ceilings, outdoor walking trails and fitness facility. But the true hallmark of this building is the sense of safety and security residents experience due to its trauma-informed design.

The intent of trauma-informed design is to create unique spaces where residents feel a sense of safety (both real and perceived), respect, connection and community, control, dignity and joy.

Jennifer Cloud, vice president of housing development for CCH, said her organization has been a pioneer in implementing trauma-informed design in their projects for many years. The design concept has strengthened their housing first model, which understands the lack of secure and safe housing is a barrier to recovery.

Located near the new VA medical center and veterans nursing home in Aurora, this type of housing has been a need for the community since the Fitzsimons Army Base closed in 1997. Even though the project has had tremendous community and political support, it wasn’t until 2018 when Colorado House Bill 16-1397 was signed into law that homeless housing for veterans was expedited as an urgent need. Vice President of Lending Stefani Joy said Mercy Community Capital was ready to help with pre-development and gap funding for the project.

 



“Being an FHLBank Topeka member is a huge asset when partnering with CCH because we can sponsor the Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grants along with predevelopment loans,” she said. “The AHP fits into the core of our mission at Mercy Community Capital, and that is why we applied for the program.”

Mercy Community Capital provided a $1 million pre-development loan for CCH and sponsored the AHP grant for the Renaissance Veterans Apartments at Fitzsimons. The project was awarded $750,000 in gap funding from FHLBank Topeka’s AHP in 2018 and the structure was completed in 2020.

 

Cortez, Colorado

Affordable Housing Program Grant

 

Cortez is situated near the Four Corners in southwest Colorado where temperatures drop drastically in the winter months.

 

Without a local shelter, homeless individuals died from exposure.

 

Cortez needed a place with warm beds for those in need. In 2006, the Bridge Emergency Shelter was founded. A grassroots effort by locals, the shelter was initially located in the old county jail. Thirteen years later, they moved into a modern, two-story building that provides beds for 68 individuals.

 

“When we found out our former location was being sold, we started to look for a solution,” said Laurie Knutson, executive director of the shelter. “Since we needed so many bathrooms, rehabilitating a current property was going to be more expensive than building something new.”

 

By the time they broke ground on the project in September 2018, they had raised funds in the community, received grants from the state and secured several grants from outside the region. It still wasn’t enough to finish the build. Luckily, they found out First National Bank, Cortez, was an FHLBank member and would be able to sponsor an AHP application.

 

“When we discovered that the Bridge Emergency Shelter needed additional funding for the construction project, we jumped at the opportunity to partner with them to ensure a successful path for the needed funding and get them over the finish line,” said Jim Muller, president of First National Bank, Cortez.

 

A month into construction, they received the good news that a $560,000 AHP grant was theirs. Construction finished about a year later.

 

The facility has space for emergency housing and transitional apartments. Both have had a major impact on residents’ lives, Laurie said, including one guest who was living on the street for years. “He shared with me that this place saved his life,” she said.

 

With a safe, secure location near the courthouse, soup kitchen and mental health services, the Bridge hopes to continue serving Cortez for years to come.

 

“Without the AHP grant, we would not have been able to complete the project,” Laurie said. “Now, our town has a dignified place for people to get help when they need it.


 

Broomfield, Colorado

Affordable Housing Program Grant

 

Gerald and Donna are two of eight adults with developmental disabilities that reside in Imagine! Santa Fe group home.

Completed in 2014 with the help of a $90,000 AHP grant through FHLBank Topeka member Commerce Bank, Santa Fe is one of four group homes built to accommodate adults with disabilities in Broomfield, Colo., since 2008.
 

In 2004, Gerald began using services offered by Imagine!, a community- centered organization that provides services for citizens with disabilities in  Broomfield and Boulder counties in Colorado. Gerald has developmental disabilities requiring him to be in a wheelchair and communicate through a  tablet.
 

Before 2008, it would have been impossible for Gerald to live on his own. But, with the help of Imagine!, Gerald and his wife, Donna, who he met through Imagine! are able to live independently in the Santa Fe home. 

“It’s harder and harder for people with disabilities to find these kind of houses,” said Fred Hobbs, Imagine! public relations manager.

“And it’s harder and harder for organizations to provide services for people with developmental disabilities in a fiscally responsible way."


Located on the outskirts of Broomfield, the Santa Fe home was designed with larger hallways and bathrooms to accommodate wheelchairs and staff. 


For residents like Gerald and Donna, the location and amenities of the home has opened up a world of independence they have never known.

 


 

Cripple Creek, Colorado

Affordable Housing Program Grant

 

You hear a lot about young adults in the millennial generation not pursuing homeownership. Tristen Miller, a 22-year-old Coloradan, broke that mold..

 

Thanks to Habitat for Humanity of Teller County, Tristen and her two young nieces moved into a new home in October 2015.

 

"Having this home provides us stability and peace of mind," she said. "It’s great to have a designated place to do homework and a good neighborhood for the girls to play in."

 

As part of the Habitat for Humanity project, Tristen not only purchased her own home, she also helped build it. She provided 300 hours of sweat equity to make her new home a reality.

 

One way Habitat for Humanity of Colorado supplements their funding pool for projects like Tristen's house is through help from FHLBank Topeka and its members. The Habitat for Humanity state organization was awarded a $400,000 Affordable Housing Program grant in 2012 through FirstBank, Lakewood, Colo.

 

"With over 20 years of history between us, FirstBank is proud to be associated with such a worthwhile organization like Habitat for Humanity," said Mark O’Connor, SVP, Director of Investments for FirstBank. "The Bank anticipates future projects where this partnership will continue for many years to come."

 


 

Address:

500 SW Wanamaker Road
Topeka, KS 66606

Phone:

785.233.0507

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