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New Public Housing Helps The Working Poor

By Melissa Garcia

DENVER (CBS4)- The Denver Housing Authority announced the completion of 523 new rental units in Denver.

About 80 percent of the apartments at Mariposa District, located near 10th Avenue and Mariposa Street, are designated for people who cannot afford Denver's rising rental prices.

(credit: CBS)

Demand was so high that the 45 apartments that became available for rent in June are already occupied, officials said.

Doris Watson, one of the district's newest tenants, showed off the amenities of her new apartment. She said that she might be homeless if it were not for affordable housing. At 30 percent of her $798 per month income, the $239 she pays for rent at the district would not go far elsewhere in the current market.

Doris Watson (credit: CBS)

"Not being able to pay the rent and take care of myself properly after I could no longer work. So for me, it's affordable."

The original public housing at Mariposa District (credit: CBS)

The neighborhood's more than 50-year-old, severely distressed original public housing had 254 units that were all for people who fit in the low-income bracket.

(credit: CBS)

The district re-development's 523 rental units, however, are considered mixed income and split into three categories: low income, workforce income, and market rate. Two hundred and four of those units are reserved for people with low income and another 157 are designated for people with workforce income, or full-time workers who don't earn enough to afford rent.

(credit: CBS)

"There was a misnomer that all public housing are all low-income or zero rent. And we have a number of public housing families that are hard-working families," said Stella Madrid, a spokeswoman for Denver Housing Authority.

CBS4's Melissa Garcia interviews Denver Housing Authority spokesman Stella Madrid (credit: CBS)

Madrid said that the city planned to break ground on more mixed-income housing just west of Interstate 25 with the re-development of Sun Valley Homes in 2018.

"That is going to have a big impact, to be able to serve affordable housing for larger families," Madrid told CBS4's Melissa Garcia. "We believe that we've certainly made a chip at the affordable housing area," she added.

(credit: CBS)

In addition to its rental apartments, Denver Housing Authority will soon begin construction on 58 townhomes in Mariposa District that will go up for sale. As required by the city of Denver, the developer will be required to make 10 percent of the for-purchase townhomes available for low-income home ownership.

Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to

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