While housing prices continue to rise, many organizations are working to provide equal housing opportunities for working class families and individuals.
The Globeville, Elyria-Swansea Coalition Organizing for Health and Housing Justice, or the GES Coalition, is a group of neighborhood leaders and organizers working to create affordable housing options for those in the North Denver area. Formed in 2015, the grassroots group aims to combat displacement and protect historically marginalized neighborhoods.
In 2017, the coalition partnered with the Colorado Community Land Trust (CCLT), a nonprofit organization and affordable housing program that works to provide affordable home ownership. Once under the CCLT, the two organizations partnered with Brothers Redevelopment, a company that builds and manages affordable housing and provides services to low-income homeowners and renters.
“The beauty of a community land trust is that they are very flexible to what you need,” said Nola Miguel, director of the GES Coalition. “It helps to provide whatever the market is not providing, and for us that has been affordable housing.”
In July 2020, the CCLT partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver, another nonprofit housing organization dedicated to eliminating substandard housing through building and preserving homes, to advocate for fair and just housing.
“It’s been a nice growth to be under Habitat because they have a lot more capacity,” Miguel said of the partnership. The CCLT and Habitat believe that by merging they can “decrease the overhead costs and redundancies and focus more resources on program operations, strategic growth, and deeper impact,” according to the CCLT website (coloradoclt.org).
Miguel states that the whole goal is to keep people in the neighborhood and to do it in a way that creates stable housing without the worry of constantly increasing housing costs. With the help of the CCLT, Brothers Redevelopment, and donors, the GES coalition has been able to take the first steps necessary in creating their own land trust, Tierra Colectiva, to build and steward permanently affordable homes.
“Brothers has been a big piece of the partnership, part of CCLT is incubating the units but Brothers has been both a fiscal agent and a developer and just an amazing partner all the way around,” Miguel said. “They own and develop the land until the owners sign and close and then the land goes to the trust and home goes to the owner.”
Because of land prices nearly doubling between 2012 and 2018 and home prices rising 72%, many people are not able to afford a home in the Denver area. But, through the CCLT, community members within the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea area can apply to buy a home with the appropriate help and guidance.
The CCLT and the GES coalition work hand-in-hand with potential buyers, including those with Section 8 vouchers or who may qualify for government assistance, while providing tools and resources throughout the home buying process including referrals to housing and financial counselors through Newsed, Del Norte, and Brothers to ensure credit and financial standing.
“For GES specifically the land trust isn’t just for affordable housing, it’s to build up the vision of a community—as the community changes and as needs change in the community, we want to be flexible to that,” Miguel said.
While highways and businesses continue to pop up, minority and low-income neighborhoods are the first to suffer. Like many residents, the Globeville, Elyria, and Swansea natives worry about displacement due to gentrification.
“Our family was one of the first to be able to [buy a home through the coalition],” said Alma Urbano, co-director of the GES Coalition. “It would probably not be possible for my parents, [to buy a home], because their income was just not that high,” she said.
Urbano was able to buy a home with her parents in February 2021 and says the help of the collaborating organizations means that members of the community get the proper help they need in order to buy a home.
“With the coalition there are always multiple organizations involved, trying to make sure you get the best deal and you’re not getting taken advantage of [which is important]—especially in communities that are not often informed about buying a home,” she said. “I think that the security and the stability is very important for a lot of people in our community and it’s not often there.”
Through the collaborating organizations and the committed neighborhood leaders, homes within the land trust will be sold for affordable prices while a GES resident led board of directors and property experts help ensure long-term affordability and offer support to new homeowners.