We hope the Frequently Asked Questions below will help with most queries related to the 8315 E Colfax project. If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Can you tell me more about the 8315 East Colfax Project?
Mercy Housing Mountain Plains, a local non-profit affordable housing owner, is partnering with the City of Denver to redevelop the currently vacant parcels at 8315 East Colfax Avenue and 1500 Valentia Street. Mercy Housing values and relies on community engagement to help inform all its projects, including 8315 East Colfax. The City purchased the two parcels in 2017 with the vision for preserving them for a future community-serving use. Mercy Housing was selected via a competitive selection process with the City and stakeholders to redevelop the site.
Mercy Housing intends to develop approximately 80 units of affordable housing with a focus on providing quality affordable rental housing for families and individuals. The ground floor space of the new development will have an Early Childhood Education (ECE) Center to provide affordable and quality childcare on site for approximately 45 children.
Guided by feedback from the community and informed by early childcare data, Mercy Housing focused on the fact that East Colfax Neighborhood has a severe lack of affordable and high-quality childcare and learning opportunities for households in the area and constitutes a “child care desert” with demand outpacing availability.
Mercy Housing has experience with providing on-site early care and education center operations in other properties and knows how beneficial affordable, quality childcare can be for both our residents and working families from the surrounding communities where they are located.
Mercy Housing is currently underway with further community engagement and looks forward to working with the East Colfax community, residents, and local businesses to receive feedback and input on the development as we work toward a shared vision for the site.
How will the development positively impact my community?
The development will help stabilize the intersection of East Colfax and Valentia Street, which is currently a vacant parking lot and one-story building (former Saturday’s Dancing Club) and has been susceptible to crime and vandalism. The development will also deliver longer term impacts to the East Colfax neighborhood through increasing the permanently affordable rental housing options in the neighborhood and offering wrap around resident services for families that reside at 8315 E. Colfax. Secondly, the development will increase the community’s access to quality, affordable childcare and learning opportunities. Early care and education affordability and availability are two of the most important factors for working families to thrive.
Tell me more about the partners making this project happen?
Mercy Housing is proud to be partnering with Mile High Early Learning (MHEL) as our ECE operator. MHEL is Denver’s oldest and largest provider of subsidized quality early childhood care and education— serving thousands of Denver’s most under-resourced children and families since 1970.
Mercy Housing will oversee the development and construction of the building, including the “build out,” that will make the ground floor ECE Center move-in ready. Mercy Housing is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to affordable housing development, preservation, management, and resident services, headquartered in Denver, Colorado. Over the last 38 years, Mercy Housing has developed 350 multi-family and mixed-use developments, with over 24,000 affordable apartment homes.
Do I qualify for 8315 housing?
There is a blend of affordability that will be available at the development. Approximately 25% of units will be reserved for very low-income households that earn an average of $30,000 or below for a 4- person household annually. The rest of the units will be reserved for families that earn approximately $45,000 to $60,0000 for a family of 4. These numbers are only meant to be illustrative and Mercy Housing encourages all households who are interested in living at the property to apply once we are under construction (see more below). Mercy Housing will always accept applications for housing from households that receive Section 8 rental assistance directly from the City or other sources.
Do I qualify for childcare at 8315 child care?
Mile High Early Learning (MHEL) enrolls children from 6 weeks to 5 years old for early care and education at its centers. Mercy Housing and MHEL anticipate approximately 45 spaces for children will be available. MHEL is an Early Head Start and Head Start funded program and accepts families who are eligible for the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP). CCCAP provides childcare cost assistance to income eligible families who are working, searching for employment, or are in training, and families who are enrolled in the Colorado Works program and need childcare services to support their efforts toward self-sufficiency. Families who are eligible for the subsidized child care to be provided by MHEL are lower income families with typically maximum annual earnings at 100% to 225% of Federal Poverty level, depending on which county human services may be covering a child’s enrollment at the center.
In general, if your family or household receives federal food assistance benefits (i.e. TANF, SNAP/EBT), or government rental assistance (i.e., Section 8), or other income support services, it is likely that your child would qualify for a space at the ECE Center.
How much does childcare cost at 8315? How does that compare to other childcare facilities in Denver?
Mile High Early Learning (MHEL) uses a blended funding approach with federal, state, and local childcare subsidy programs to provide quality, affordable childcare and early learning services to under-resourced and under-served children and families. What an individual household may pay will depend on individual circumstances and varies based on a family’s eligibility for available subsidies. Potential funding subsidies include federal Head Start and the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP). These subsidies help to lower the actual cost to a family. The CCCAP provides funds based on household income and eligible activities like working, going to school, or searching for employment. In general, the 3 cost of childcare to families offered at the 8315 East Colfax will be lower than non-subsidized options in the neighborhood or in the larger community. Subsidies are based on available funding.
How did Mercy select Mile High Early Learning?
Mercy Housing, at the outset of conceptualizing the development at 8315 East Colfax, spoke and interviewed several local high-quality affordable ECE operators to gauge ECE expansion and operational interest at the site. Through that process, it became apparent that Mile High Early Learning was the best fit for Mercy Housing and the development. Mercy Housing and Mile High Early Learning are proud to co-facilitate the development of the property into an integrated vision for the East Colfax community.
How does MHEL define high quality child care?
Mile High Early Learning participates in the State-based early childhood education (ECE) evaluation system that provides transparency and accountability to ECE operators and centers. The Colorado Shines Brighter evaluation system provides a quality rank from 1 -5 with 5 being highest and based on several factors. Mile High Early Learning’s existing centers consistently rank 4 or higher in the Colorado Shines program signifying high quality ECE operations and service delivery. This level of quality means that MHEL emphasizes workforce and caregiver qualifications, family partnership, child health and the overall learning environment.
Do they provide care in multiple languages?
Yes, Mile High Early Learning (MHEL) has experience with multilingual families and provides care to a very diverse population. MHEL will provide interpretation services and any other needed resources so parents can be full partners in their child’s education. At one of MHEL’s ECE centers, there are over 20 languages spoken, including successful language interpretation services.
Has MHEL provided care to children of different cultures in the past?
Yes. MHEL provides interpretation services and any other needed resources so parents can be full partners in a child’s education. MHEL values diversity in the classroom and welcomes the opportunity to celebrate each child’s unique cultural heritage.
What is the application process for childcare? When can I apply? Will there be a waitlist?
Mile High Early Learning (MHEL) will typically initiate an enrollment plan approximately 6 to 9 months prior to the opening. MHEL plans on attending community events and public forums in the East Colfax neighborhood prior to the Center opening to encourage intentional recruitment from the neighborhood’s eligible households (see building timeline below). Families that are interested can submit contact information to MHEL at any point during the pre-development process and will be kept up-to-date regarding future recruitment and information sessions in the neighborhood. . Once the Center is operational, MHEL does take referrals for open slots and maintains a waitlist.
What is the application process for apartments? When can I apply? Will there be a waitlist?
Mercy Housing will start collecting applications for the apartments 6 months in advance of the anticipated opening. Mercy Housing will be actively communicating construction progress updates and application processes to the community via our 8315 East Colfax website (https://www.8315eastcolfax.org/ ) and at quarterly updates to the East Colfax Neighborhood Association. Mercy Housing typically holds a lottery for available apartments upon initial opening if there is more demand than apartments. Once the full property is leased, Mercy Housing will maintain a property waitlist for any vacant units that become available.
When will the building be completed?
Completion of the building relies on competitive funding from local, state and federal sources. The remainder of 2020 will be dedicated to securing all the required financing for the residential and ECE portions of the development. If Mercy Housing is awarded the financing, construction on the development would start late Summer of 2021 with a 16-month delivery schedule. The residential and ECE Center would then likely be completed and opened at the same time in late 2022.
How will Mercy Housing make sure that the East Colfax community has priority access to these services?
Mercy Housing Mountain Plains (MHMP) and Mile High Early Learning will prioritize some of the ECE spaces for those extremely low-income families. We also anticipate roughly three-fourths to half of the childcare spaces will be available to the community-at-large. Mercy Housing, in accordance with applicable federal fair housing regulation, will prioritize available residential units for families and individuals that may be currently residing in the neighborhood or “doubled-up” with relatives, etc.
Likewise, Mile High Early Learning is held to federal selection criteria for children accessing spaces funded through Head Start and Early Head Start Programs. MHEL will prioritize a local recruitment effort for qualifying East Colfax families that will include engagement with families at local community events, schools, and trusted neighborhood stakeholders.
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