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Silver Key plans affordable housing project for low-income seniors in Colorado Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The agency known for helping to provide home health care, meals and transportation for senior citizens is now stepping into the real estate arena.

Silver Key intends to build a 50- to 60-unit apartment complex next to its offices on Murray Boulevard on the city's southeast side.

The project was scaled down from its original size of 70 units because of increasing costs for construction materials; the project's cost is unspecified but will be less than the original amount of $12 million.

To help pay for construction, Silver Key will apply for tax credits from the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, and has received a loan from the Pikes Peak Real Estate Foundation to help with the application.

Construction could start next spring; around two-thirds of the units are intended for residents earning less than $20,000 a year, with the rest going to tenants who earn slightly more.

The complex will be on a three-acre plot that Silver Key purchased for $2 million in 2015. The property is currently covered in high weeds and is the site of several homeless camps.

Officials said that the project will help meet a dire need for this type of housing; many seniors live with friends and relatives, or in their vehicles, or move to cheaper rural areas because they can't afford rising rent costs or security deposits.

"It often means the difference between paying rent or spending money on utilities, food or medicine," said Derek Wilson, Silver Key's chief strategy officer. "And many seniors are on reduced or limited incomes. They can't afford the rising housing costs that we're seeing."

Wilson said that the agency never expected to see such a strong demand for affordable housing and rental assistance.

“Those who don’t have their shelter needs met, they report worse or poorer physical, mental or oral health," he said. "It creates all kinds of cascading problems. And in particular for seniors, there’s a whole slew of issues. Because as we age, there’s cognitive decline.”

The Silver Key project is one of only two recently that responds specifically to the housing needs of low-income seniors. The Atrium at Austin Bluffs, a 54-unit complex on city-donated land, is expected to welcome tenants later this year.

Silver Key's project isn't its first venture into housing; since the 1980s, the agency has managed the city-owned Senior Heritage Plaza, a 35-unit complex.

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Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.


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