Column: $60,000 ‘casitas’ and giant awnings: Caruso, Bass pitch cheaper homeless units
A pair of giant awnings to protect the homeless from the sun, $60,000 homes and the community’s commitment to provide them with jobs are among the new additions to the Caruso development north of downtown. The project also offers a range of services including health care, dental care, child care and educational assistance.
The Caruso Community Services Center, which will be the largest in the Denver area, took up residency Tuesday across the street from the new Caruso. Along with the awnings, the development also has $60,000 units in the middle to house “casitas” with multiple bedrooms and one- and two-bedroom apartments, a gym, community center and art gallery, said John J. Rorabaugh, president of Caruso Community Services Center Inc.
The developers were drawn to Caruso by the high concentration of Hispanic workers who have made the district a magnet for gentrification and its residents. Rorabaugh said the city’s diversity is “absolutely key in keeping the community alive.”
The Caruso development’s $6.5 million in subsidies comes from taxpayers and federal and state funds provided by the federal Housing Trust Fund. The $500,000 in tax breaks Rorabaugh cited came from tax credits, mostly for first-time home buyers and those who buy homes they cannot afford at a market rate.
The development already had received $500,000 from the Humboldt Housing Assistance Program, a federal affordable housing program. Other grant money approved for the Caruso project came from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the State Housing Agency and other private sources, Rorabaugh said. Denver and the state had a combined $4 million to create “a community hub” for the area.
Rorabaugh said the $6.5 million in subsidies comes from money the state and federal governments have committed to the project.
“We wanted to make sure that we were committed to getting this done,” he said.
A team of planners, architects and engineers prepared the site