In December, six seniors moved into six newly constructed homes in Longmont. Developed by The Inn Between, the Micah Homes project includes four one-bedroom homes, two two-bedroom homes, a community room and a community garden as well as supportive services to provide a permanent, dignified place for residents to call home.
Boulder County, like many areas in Colorado, has a tremendous need for more affordable homes, especially for extremely low-income households. In Longmont alone, more than 2,500 homes are needed to sufficiently house low-income families and residents. The Micah Homes residents make less than 30% of area median income, which makes finding stable, affordable homes even more challenging.
Creative approaches are needed to address the housing gap in the region, and The Inn Between, working with the Congregational Church of Christ in Longmont and the Congregation Land Campaign, employed an approach growing here and across the country: faith-based development. Four years ago, the church transferred one-quarter acre of land to the Longmont nonprofit to construct the homes.
[Related: Dignity and design—The aesthetics of aging in place]
Denver-based nonprofit Radian Inc. provided the architectural and planning services to the Inn Between for Micah Homes. The development is part of its larger Congregation Land Campaign initiative, a unique partnership between the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado and Radian to bring a promising model of building affordable homes to the state, while also supporting diverse faith-based communities in advancing their values around community development.
“From the beginning, this project has been 100% community driven, identifying local needs and implementing based on those priorities. Collaboration was the key to the success of this project, among the church’s insight, our contractor’s in-kind donations, and the Inn Between’s leadership around fundraising,” said Tim Reinen, executive director at Radian. “The Congregation Land Campaign is taking lessons learned here and across the metro Denver area to bring greater scale to this land use approach through the broader statewide CLC.”
Building upon its 10-plus years in faith-based development in the Mid-Atlantic region, Enterprise Community Partners published “Leveraging Property Owned by Faith-Based Organizations to Create Affordable Homes and Public Benefit.” The report aims to assist faith-based organizations and community stakeholders to understand what it takes to successfully undertake this approach and to help them become familiar with different paths that can be pursued in implementation.
The Longmont development takes its name from the Book of Micah, a prophet who overcame injustices and defended the rights of the poor. Like most affordable home developments, it takes a number of partners to support faith-based developments from beginning to completion. Other supporting faith-based organizations included Faith Community Lutheran Church, Longs Peak United Methodist Church and First United Methodist Church. Pro-bono services and goods were provided by Krische Construction and Carpet Wise. Housing funds and permits and fees reductions were provided by Boulder County and the city of Longmont.
Jennie Rodgers is vice president for Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit that improves communities by making well-designed homes. Learn more at enterprisecommunity.org.