Gardner Capital Partners with Attention Homes to Develop Supportive Housing Project in Boulder, Colorado
Gardner Capital, a family-owned private equity firm specializing in affordable housing and solar development, is pleased to announce the start of its newest housing project, Attention Homes Apartments in Boulder, Colorado, furthering the company’s commitment to improving peoples’ lives and well being through the provision of quality, affordable housing. Gardner Capital will partner with First United Methodist Church of Boulder and Attention Homes, a Boulder-based non-profit organization founded in 1966 that provides life-changing resources to youth in crisis.
“Attention Homes Apartments is a special project in our portfolio – it uniquely fits our mission of improving peoples’ lives, and it provides a solution to the serious challenges of homelessness. The partnership with Attention Homes will ensure that the tenants have all the resources and amenities they need to find more permanent stability, and we greatly appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with Attention Homes,” said Michael Gardner, President & CEO, Gardner Capital.
Attention Homes Apartments will be Gardner Capital’s most recent housing development with a tenant preference for homeless youth, aged 18 to 24. For Attention Homes, the project will expand a continuum of care targeting youth and young adults experiencing homelessness with housing and on-site supportive services. In 2016 alone, between its emergency shelter, day drop-in center, street outreach, and residential care program, Attention Homes served 657 individuals aged 12 to 25 years.
Roughly half of homeless adults in the United States were homeless as they transitioned from adolescence to adulthood. Attention Homes believes that helping homeless youth attain a safe place to live with on-going support is critical to a young person’s long-term success.
While it is difficult to precisely count the number of youth who are homeless or unstably housed, research has shown that abuse, neglect and trauma are primary risk factors. Approximately one-third of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ and cite family rejection as a central reason for leaving home, and between 30-40% are former systems-involved youth who have exited foster care. Mental illness, substance use, poverty and family homelessness are also contributing factors.
After 51 years of service, Attention Homes understands that in order for youth experiencing homelessness to achieve their full potential they need housing as well as counseling, life skill development and permanent connections. In cities like Boulder, Colorado where huge challenges exist to meet the demand for affordable housing, youth face additional barriers. “For the last few years, it’s been challenging to secure an adequate number of stable housing options for high-risk youth who lack a safety net and require more time to heal and thrive” says Claire Clurman, Executive Director at Attention Homes. “As an agency, we know that for many of our clients, a network of support and sense of belonging is crucial to their long-term well being. With the high cost of living, minimum wage jobs and trauma histories, our clients need more than the 30 to 60 days an emergency shelter can provide in order to stabilize.”
Largely based on a Housing First model, Attention Homes Apartments will provide housing as well as on-site resources such as case management, job training and employment assistance, access to education, substance abuse and mental health treatment, and family reunification coaching.
Unlike the permanent supportive services aimed at providing housing for homeless adults, however, Attention Homes expects most tenants will stay an average of two years in the apartments. “While many permanent supportive projects are for veterans and adults who will age in place, ours is really geared towards a ‘move on’ culture. ‘What do you need in order to stabilize and what are your personal and housing goals for moving forward’ will provide the foundation for case planning. For each tenant that will look different and services are then individually tailored,” says Clurman. She expects that most of the tenants will need between one and three years at Attention Homes Apartments. For those who need to stay longer or eventually move into permanent or long-term adult supportive housing, the organization will work with partner organizations to assist with the transition.
In addition to the 40 apartments — 26 studios, 13 one-bedrooms, and one 2-bedroom — the Attention Homes Apartment complex will include administrative offices for the non-profit, community space, an enclosed courtyard, and a grab-and-go cafe that will provide job skill training for tenants and local community benefit. “What’s been unique about this project is the coming together of our various partners for a shared purpose,” says Clurman. “First United Methodist Church was a founding partner of Attention Homes back in 1966 and today they’ve leased a portion of their land for this project; Gardner Capital specializes in affordable housing, and we’re allowed to do what we do best which is to provide services. In addition, there are seven buildings on this block that have been landmarked. The church has been extraordinary in their efforts to make this project happen.”
Attention Homes selected a central location in the Boulder community in order to ensure youth have access to transportation, school, and job opportunities. But making sure that tenants feel connected to the area will be essential to the program’s success. This means not only evaluating prospective residents based on their vulnerability but assessing their interest in making Boulder and northern Colorado home.
In addition, Attention Homes is working to develop community buy-in, which includes developing a good neighbor statement of operations with neighboring residents, explaining what the program will actually look like and how it will economically benefit the community with long-term savings in emergency services. Attention Homes will also develop a mentoring program to help tenants build permanent connections within the community.
“With young people, we have a chance to change the trajectory of their lives,” says Clurman. “This project is an upstream solution to chronic adult homelessness.”