Aurora affordable housing launch tabbed by Ben Carson, Colorado’s Gardner, Polis and LeGare

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AURORA | A single monarch butterfly — often the symbol of transformation and rebirth — fluttered around the courtyard of a new affordable housing apartment building in North Aurora as local, state and federal leaders cut the ribbon for the Paris Family Apartments.

1702 Paris St. has seen its own rebirth over the last several years, from an old 24-unit apartment building to a vacant lot to the current, uber-modern affordable housing development. Friday Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Sen. Cory Gardner, Gov. Jared Polis and Aurora Mayor Bob LeGare celebrated the opening of the complex, which will now be home to low-income families, many of them veterans.

Gardner, a Republican, praised the project saying the “American dream starts in Aurora,” and Carson said the project is an example of HUD’s goals for multi-agency cooperation and getting people out of government programs.

The opposite of poverty is not winning the lottery, but self sufficiency, Carson told a gathering of people at the north Aurora site. Last month, he told the Hill, a Washington-based political newspaper, that he would like to see his agency’s success measured on how many people are removed from HUD programs, not how many people are enrolled.

Carson said the Paris Family Apartments project relates to that in that it gives “people a wonderful living environment, but also provide wrap around services that allow people to ascend the ladder of opportunity, because this is still America, this is still the land of opportunity, the can-do spirit is still here. People have so incredibly much potential. If you have a normal brain, you can do almost anything.”

The apartments will also have services available to residents. Carson said that’s a pivotal point to what HUD is trying to do.

The complex, which broke ground last spring, has 24 two-bedroom units and 15 three-bedroom units. Those apartments will be available to families earning at or below 60 percent or less of the Area Median Income, or about $65,000 for a family of three.

The Paris Family Apartments are the 14th affordable community Brothers Development has opened in the Denver Metro Area, but the first funded through Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.

Jeff Martinez, president of Brothers, previously told the Sentinel the site’s proximity to the booming Anschutz Medical Campus, a nearby light rail stop and East Colfax Avenue really provides a link for families who need access to those places but struggle finding affordable housing in a tough market around the metro region.

Polis highlighted that fact, saying that the stretch between rising rent prices and stagnant wages is evident in Aurora.

In 2010 the city of Aurora used money from the State Neighborhood Stabilization Program to purchase the old 23-unit building at the site. Michael Bryant, a spokesman for the city, said that under federal regulations, if federal funds are used to demolish existing units, the agency is required to replace the number of units when redeveloped.

Local, state and federal government officials alike said the $13.5 million project is one that showcases creativity and strong partnerships between all levels of government. 

The new apartments were funded through federal HUD dollars and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, which were issued through the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority.

The city donated $2 million in federal pass through funding as well as the land.