By Kelly Werthmann

DENVER (CBS4)– It was a groundbreaking day in Denver as the city celebrated the kick-off to construction on a first-of-its-kind project — Valor on the Fax. It’s a 72-unit apartment community exclusively for persons experiencing homelessness who also have a brain injury or related disability.

(credit: CBS)

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“This, as far as we’re aware, is the first permanent supportive housing project specifically for those who have suffered a brain injury or other disabilities… in the nation,” said Gavin Attwood with the Brain Injury Alliance of Colorado (BIAC). “Research shows 50% of the population of individuals experiencing homelessness will screen positive for a brain injury.”

Developed by Brothers Redevelopment, in conjunction with BIAC, Valor on the Fax located at 7900 East Colfax Avenue will offer 1, 2 and 3-bedroom units that are income-restricted for households earning up to 30% of the area median income (up to $22,050 for a single-person household, per a city news release). The project’s “trauma-informed design” will include a therapeutic environment for future tenants, with around-the-clock service and resources.

“Things like soothing visuals, 24-hour front desk support, and the use of sound reduction materials,” explained Denver City Councilwoman Amanda Sawyer at Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony.

(credit: CBS)

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BIAC staff will also provide comprehensive services to tenants, including resource navigation, job training, and recreational and wellness activities. Brothers will manage the property and will use the building’s first-floor commercial space for a variety of housing-related services for residents in the East Colfax neighborhood.

“With so many of our neighbors struggling with basic housing needs during the pandemic, it’s a critical time that our city has chosen to support this important endeavor,” said Jeff Martinez, President of Brothers Redevelopment.

Denver’s Department of Housing Stability (HOST) is providing $1,440,000 in development financing toward the $23.6 million project. HOST is also subsidizing supportive services at the site for a 15-year period through a $1 million contract. Other public financing partners include the Colorado Housing & Finance Authority, Colorado Division of Housing, and Denver Housing Authority, including subsidy vouchers for all units to ensure residents pay no more than 30% of their total income on housing costs.

“This is progress,” said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. “It’s incremental, but we are a city, with all of our partners, who are absolutely committed to the mission and have the audacity to believe that if you want to be in this city, you ought to be able to afford to live in this city.”

(credit: CBS)

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Valor on the Fax is expected to be completed in about a year. It is the latest city-supported affordable housing development to begin construction in Denver. A total of 993 affordable units that have received city financing are currently under construction at 14 sites throughout Denver. An additional 828 income-restricted units are in the planning stage.

Kelly Werthmann