Denver's Warren Village is like little ray of sunshine

Nonprofit provides affordable transitional housing

Christy Steadman
csteadman@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 12/30/21

When Jasmine White first moved to Denver with her two young children in 2015, they had nothing more than what would fit in two suitcases and $200 that White had saved. “That was it,” White said. …

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Denver's Warren Village is like little ray of sunshine

Nonprofit provides affordable transitional housing

Posted

When Jasmine White first moved to Denver with her two young children in 2015, they had nothing more than what would fit in two suitcases and $200 that White had saved.

“That was it,” White said.

Today, the 33-year-old single mother is happily employed, is about one year away from earning her bachelor’s degree, volunteers on boards and committees on a variety of local nonprofits and is on the path to becoming a first-time homebuyer.

She attributes her success story to the support and encouragement she received from the first day she moved into Warren Village.

“It was the most transformational thing that ever happened to me,” White said.

Warren Village is a nonprofit residential community located at 1323 Gilpin St. in the Cheesman Park neighborhood. It serves homeless or housing insecure single-parent households. A goal is to end the cycle of poverty, and with its unique Two-Generation (2Gen) program, Warren Village empowers families to make the journey from poverty or near-poverty to self-sufficiency. Warren Village’s resources include — but are not limited to — affordable transitional, private housing; parent services and advocacy; and onsite early childhood education and childcare.

In addition to the Cheesman Park community, Warren Village has a congregate housing community in northwest Denver, and recently announced its plans to add a third campus that will provide 74 one, two and three bedroom apartment homes in southwest Denver.

“We’re driven by urgency,” said Ethan Hemming, president and CEO of Warren Village. Often, “women and men with children don’t have anywhere to go. We need this for families.”

The land was awarded through a highly competitive process managed by the Denver Housing Authority (DHA) and the City and County of Denver, funded by the DHA Delivers for Denver (D3) Bond Program. A news release states that the D3 Bond Program is “a land acquisition fund dedicated to expanding opportunities for housing developments that will serve Denver’s most vulnerable residents” and “double the city’s Affordable Housing Fund and enhance the pipeline for supportive and affordable housing in Denver.”

The project will be funded with federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits, along with state, city and private funding.

Once completed, the new Warren Village campus will reside at 1394 W. Alameda Ave. and 1373 W. Nevada Pl., which borders Denver’s Valverde and Athmar Park neighborhoods. The two buildings will have connectivity across an alley. The building on Nevada will be the primary residential building and it will also house the early childhood education center. The building on Alameda will also have some residential units, but it will house the administrative and resident support services spaces. The campus will also include resident amenities such as onsite parking, laundry facilities and a playground.

It is expected that the new Warren Village campus could open as soon as mid-2024.

•••

White now works as Warren Village’s community intake coordinator.

“I truly love what I do,” she said. Particularly, she is glad to be able to share her story with others and help them understand how they can benefit from Warren Village. “I want people to understand that they don’t have to be a victim of their circumstance.”

White learned of Warren Village through her longtime friend Whitney Whitson, also a single mother of two. White and Whitson went to high school together in Tennessee, and in 2007, Whitson moved to Colorado because of the unique programming that Warren Village provides. She had tried to convince White to join her.

“But I was scared,” White said. “I had never left Tennessee before.”

About six or seven years passed, and in that time, White was faced with a series of events that she described as a “downward spiral” — the place where she was living contracted bed bugs and her grandmother died, among other things.

At that time, White had recently given birth to her second child and her oldest was going into kindergarten.

“Where we were living wasn’t conducive to their wellbeing,” White said.

White flew to Denver in early 2015 and did the assessment required by Warren Village. She was approved, but still had reservations about moving away from everything she knew in Tennessee.

Whitson — who, by this time, had successfully completed the Warren Village program and had already bought her first home — remained persistent. In fall 2015, she finally convinced White to move to Colorado, even offering to pay for her plane tickets to help her relocate.

White and her two daughters — Jordyn, now 13, and Carmyn, now 7 — stayed with Whitson for one month while the family was on Warren Village’s waitlist.

They moved into Warren Village in October 2015 and lived there for two years. Now, White has a stable rental housing in Denver’s RiNo area and is enrolled in a first-time homebuyer’s program offered through Volunteers of America.

“As time went on, we made friends here,” White said, referring to Warren Village’s advocates and the teachers at its childcare center. “My kids have a sense of community and family here.”

Because of Warren Village, White’s children have learned to journal their emotions and speak up for themselves. They have been involved with a dance team and leadership roles. Meanwhile, White also learned parenting skills. She was raised by her dad, and felt she was lacking in the nurturing aspect. Warren Village helped her learn how to be both a nurturing parent and a provider.

“Warren Village is like grandma’s house. We are loved, and we are supported and encouraged here,” White said. “It’s always sunny here, even when it’s snowing. So if we ever need a little ray of sunshine, we know we can find it at Warren Village.”

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