Being home (whether or not in time for the holidays) will soon have a profound new meaning for over a hundred Denver residents as the Quality Inn on Quebec is transformed into 139 affordable micro-housing units.
On October 7, with funding from the City of Denver and the State of Colorado, the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless purchased the Quality Inn at 3737 N. Quebec St. for $11 million. Construction and renovation at the 100,000 square foot building is already underway. The former hotel will be transformed into Fusion Studios, with the first two floors move-in ready later this year and the top two floors becoming available in early 2020. Assuming remodeling goes according to schedule, “We anticipate having people moving in…by the end of November to early December,” says Cathy Alderman, Vice President of Communications and Public Policy at Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.
Construction priorities include upgrading all the sprinkler systems to meet code and filling in the outdoor pool to create a large patio area for residents. Normally, Alderman says, it takes 2-3 years to create a housing unit, start to finish. Converting the hotel is a much faster and more affordable process, and will get people off the streets and into their own homes quickly.
This development offers a glimmer of hope to Denver’s homeless population during a year that found them at the center of a vociferous debate on Initiative 300, the “Right to Survive.” Many critics of the measure asserted that it did not push the city forward on the pressing issue of affordable housing but merely abdicated responsibility by allowing urban “camping.” The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless did not support Proposition 300, and has been working with the City to increase the availability of housing.
Each furnished 300-600 square foot unit will include its own kitchenette, with a small refrigerator, microwave and sink. The studios will not have stovetops for cooking; however, a large common area inside the building may be used for cooking instruction or possibly for meal service, depending on residents’ needs and interests. The common areas hold promise for helping build community among residents.
Alderman says couples and individuals will likely be the principal residents, though she’s not ruling out single parents with a child, who might temporarily call a micro-studio home while waiting for an apartment or a larger unit elsewhere to open up. The goal, however, is to provide long-term housing here for a fraction of the estimated 5,755 people experiencing homelessness in Denver at any given time. Residents will pay no more than 30% of their monthly income in rent.
“A lot of people who are experiencing homelessness…if they can be provided a transitional option or just a safe space to be for a time while they get their affairs in order…then they’re much more likely to be successful in the housing when they obtain it,” says Alderman. “There will be some cases where this will serve more as transitional or a bridge housing option.”
Fusion Studios will have 24-hour security and on-site property managers to ensure the property is safe and well maintained. Two or three case managers will work on-site to provide any necessary support services to residents, as well as referrals to health and behavioral health services. To Alderman, Fusion Studios is full of possibilities, with the Coalition prepared to be flexible in the scale and scope of its programming and services to best meet the needs of those who will call the Studios home.