GES, acronym for Globeville, Elyria and Swansea neighborhoods.
GES benefits from Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver.
GES some of the poorest neighborhoods in Denver.
Globeville, Elyria and Swansea, or GES, in Northeast Denver are among the poorest neighborhoods in the city.
Home prices in GES also are among the fastest rising in Denver. This puts additional financial pressure on poor, long-time residents.
Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver has targeted GES for several years to help address the ongoing affordable housing crisis in these neighborhoods.
A recent in-depth study shows Habitat’s efforts have helped, despite gentrification pressures.
Financial demographics of GES long-time residents are bleak:
- Residents in GES are almost three times as likely to live in poverty than in other Denver neighborhoods.
- Some 48 percent of children in GES neighborhoods live in poverty.
- The average household income for GES residents is about half the average for Denver.
At the same time, home prices have skyrocketed 73 percent and 67 percent, respectively, in Elyria and Swansea and in Globeville, from 2013-2015, according to data from the Denver’s Assessor’s office and the Piton Foundation. That is more than double the 29 percent for all Denver neighborhoods in that time period.
Heather Lafferty, CEO and Executive Director of Habitat Denver, thinks several forces are at work.
First, the low supply of for-sale homes across Denver has driven up the median price of a home to almost $400,000. That has resulted in a number of home buyers with moderate incomes to seek homes in lower-income neighborhoods, such as GES.
“Competition and buying power have driven up costs,” according to Lafferty.
Also, a shortage of affordable rental properties has meant that a lot of homes sales in GES have been to investors, who make all cash offers, outbidding owner-occupants and driving up prices even more, she said.
At the same time, GES, relatively close to hot RiNo, is increasingly seen as being trendy.
“GES has been in the spotlight over the past three years like it never has been before,” Lafferty said.
She noted that Mayor Michael B. Hancock’s office is spearheading six major developments in GES. Also, two light rail stations have opened in the past six months and another is in the works.
“The city has made long overdue investments in parks, rec centers, public art, etc., giving buyer more confidence in the neighborhood,” according to Lafferty.
While that is good news for the fabric of GES, it makes it difficult for poor residents, whether they are renting or want to buy.
However, Habitat’s efforts to provide, maintain and upgrade homes for poor residents in GES, are paying off, shows a new study measuring the impact Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver’s work in GES.
Habitat Denver identified Globeville as a neighborhood with an acute need for affordable housing options in 2012.
At that time, it kicked off a neighborhood revitalization program to provide an expanded array of housing services and community development support
With the help of Habitat Denver volunteers and families, the organization built 40 new homes and repaired 70 existing homes in GES.
Habitat Denver plans to repair another 90 homes by 2017.
“Denver consistently tops lists for ‘Best Places to Live,’ but with a swelling population and record-high housing costs, our city is at tipping point and we are now facing an affordable housing crisis,” Lafferty said.
“With the City of Denver having just passed its first-ever affordable housing fund, we firmly believe a discussion about the impact of affordable housing in Denver is critical,,” Lafferty continued.
Habitat’s research included a total of 250 resident opinion surveys that were used to compare responses from 2013 to 2015.
The survey addressed social cohesion, Interstate 70, gentrification, safety, services and other community issues.
In addition, Habitat completed a large-scale survey of Globeville in 2013. Another survey in all three GES neighborhoods was conducted in the summer of 2015.
The comprehensive evaluation involved completing an inventory of the physical conditions of the three neighborhoods for both vacant and occupied properties, as well as overall block conditions.
Highlights from the report include:
- Some 95 percent of Globeville residents report feeling satisfied with their neighborhood, while 97 percent of Habitat Denver partner families are satisfied with their neighborhood.
- More than 90 percent of Globeville residents recommend the neighborhood as a good place to live.
- The number of residents who feel basic necessities can be found in Globeville has tripled.
- Exterior home features reported as “needing major repair” decreased by 71 percent.
- Homes assessed as being in “good conditions” rose to 41 percent from 28 percent.
Lafferty said there couldn’t be a better time to release the findings of the survey.
“It demonstrates the immense positive change that providing and maintaining affordable housing can mean for a community,” Lafferty said.
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