Mixed Use & Mixed Income
With our isolated lives, long commutes, and the high cost of gas, there is a movement to return to the kind of neighborhoods many of our grandparents enjoyed, where shopkeepers lived above their businesses and mom and pop stores could be found in the middle of a neighborhood.
The combination of a mixed-use and mixed-income project is not easy to pull off, but it is worth the effort. These two models, mixed income and mixed use, combine all the best elements of community development and affordable housing development. With the proper mix of businesses, walkable streets and housing density, mixed-use projects often result in greater visibility of neighbors, which in turns increases the sense of safety, a healthy sense of community and reduced car reliance.
In this chapter, Ray and Marilyn Stranske recount the story of The Point in the Five Points neighborhood of Denver, Colorado—a mixed income/mixed use community. The before and after pictures here demonstrate the huge investment made to jump start a disenfranchised community. Because of Ray’s long-time relationship with both city officials and the local African American Business Association, they became natural partners in the development of The Point. But long before taking on such a rigorous project they had years of experience in affordable housing development and founded Hope Communities. You will read about this in “The Point,” chapter 7 of Making Housing Happen.
Ray and Marilyn were called by God to create affordable housing as they responded to the needs around them. “Looking out our window on a hot afternoon, we saw our friend Margaret trudging behind a grocery cart piled high with personal belongings, her three small children in tow. They were moving back to the projects more than a mile away. Margaret's landlord had twice raised the rent forcing her to leave the home she had proudly rented just a year before. The experience tugged at us as a couple, making us wonder if we might be called to help increase the supply of decent, affordable housing. That was 28 years and several hundred housing units ago. Our perspectives are seasoned by time, and we understand better the nuts and bolts of housing and economic development. But, we still wonder how to deal with the social forces that keep people passing by our window.”