BlueLine In the News

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Saint Francis Apartments on BusinessDen

Nonprofits plan apartments for homeless in Cap Hill


The lot next to St. John's Cathedral will be developed into an apartment building for the homeless. Photos by Burl Rolett.

A pair of nonprofits are teaming up on 50 new apartments for Denver’s homeless.

St. Francis Center is planning a new 50-unit apartment building in Cap Hill to house homeless people. The $10.5 million complex will fill a parking lot along Washington Street between Colfax and 14th avenues on land owned by nearby St. John’s Cathedral.

“We happened to be talking to people from St. John’s Cathedral who owned the lot, and both of our organization’s missions fit together on this,” said Tom Luehrs, St. Francis Center executive director. “It’s something we had envisioned doing, and they had a similar vision.”

St. Francis has signed a 55-year ground lease with St. John’s for the 0.23-acre site, which sits just across Washington Street from Natural Grocers on the same block as SliceWorks pizza and Argonaut Wine & Liquor.

The complex will have 49 units that will rent to homeless residents and one apartment for an on-site manager. Luehrs said residents will pay one-third of their income each month for rent, and housing vouchers from both the city and the state will subsidize the rest.

The project, St. Francis Apartments at Cathedral Square, will stand six stories tall, and the building will include a common dining room, meeting room, computer lab and library in addition to its one-bedroom apartments.

The property is currently a surface parking lot.

The project is out to bid for general contractors, according to a classified ad recently placed by Montana-based Blueline Development. Humphries Poli is the architect on the project. Blueline will develop the building but will not have an ownership stake in the finished project, Luehrs said.

“They are a developer that has done a number of affordable housing projects before and so they are basically handling the development side,” Luehrs said. “They will get a portion of the developer’s fee and when the building’s built that will be the end of their involvement.”

Construction should start in May, Luehrs said, and it will take about 15 months to build the apartments.

St. Francis Apartments will be paid for in part with low-income housing tax credits, a loan from the city and a grant from the state’s Housing Development Grant Fund, according to a project narrative on the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority’s website.

This will be the second apartment building St. Francis Center has built in Denver. The nonprofit also owns the Cornerstone Residences at Curtis Street and Park Avenue West.

Residents at both Cornerstone and the forthcoming Washington Street building will have an assigned case manager to help them set goals, obtain financial benefits and keep mentally and physically healthy.

Luehrs said demand for housing has far outpaced St. Francis Center’s capacity at its first apartment project, which opened in 2009.

“We open it up to everyone who wants a place,” Luehrs said. “For instance, when we did the Cornerstone Residences we had a week where we signed people up and had (more than 300) people sign up for 50 units.”

St. Francis Center has been around since 1983 and is based at 2323 Curtis St. downtown. The nonprofit offers employment help, health services and other aid to Denver’s homeless population.

St. Francis Center says about 700 people visit its headquarters each day.


Progress of Star Apartments

Demolition and remediation is almost complete on the former Star Apartments in Casper, WY. Click on the picture for the full story.

BlueLine’s St. Francis Apartments at Cathedral Square gets noticed on

DENVER — Friday, Aug. 7, 2015 — Gov. Hickenlooper today commended the award of $5.3 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) to support Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) projects in Denver, Greeley, and Lakewood, creating 282 units of housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness or with severe special needs, the highest number of this type of housing in Colorado’s history.

A significant milestone in the state’s commitment to provide supportive housing for Colorado’s most vulnerable populations, the five projects are the result of a longstanding collaboration between the Governor’s Office, the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), and the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA).

“Combining affordable housing with access to support services like case management, employment training, and mental health treatment, these projects will strengthen Colorado’s overall continuum of homeless services and give residents the opportunity to live stable, autonomous, and dignified lives,” Hickenlooper said.

Earlier this week, CHFA announced the most recent recipients of federal LIHTC, which is used to support the development and preservation of affordable rental housing. Among the 14 LIHTC award recipients, the following four are PSH developments: Renaissance Downtown Lofts in Denver, Saint Francis Apartments at Cathedral Square in Denver, Sanderson Apartments in Denver, and 40 West Residences in Lakewood. In a previous LIHTC award this year, another PSH development, Guadalupe Apartments in Greeley, received a combination of both state and federal LIHTC.

A study completed in August 2014 found that while Colorado had an existing inventory of 7,800 PSH units, in order to meet the needs of individuals and families living in emergency shelters or experiencing homelessness, an additional 5,800 new PSH units were needed.

To help meet this demand, the Governor’s Office, and CHFA partnered with Enterprise Community Partners and LeBeau Development to create a capacity building program called the Pathways Home Supportive Housing Toolkit. The Toolkit is a series of technical assistance and peer learning sessions designed to help nonprofits, housing authorities, and other homeless service providers develop high-quality supportive housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

Following participation in the Pathways Toolkit program, the developers of these PSH projects were successful in securing LIHTC, 154 project-based vouchers awarded by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs’ Division of Housing, 24 matching vouchers provided by the Greeley Housing Authority, and 105 matching vouchers provided by the Denver Housing Authority to help make their projects financially viable.

A joint underwriting process led by the Governor’s Office, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs’ Division of Housing, and CHFA established a coordinated set of application standards, submission deadlines, and review processes during the 2015 LIHTC application round.

“Previously, communities working to develop this type of housing intervention applied for each pool of resources separately. Working with CHFA we are encouraging more high-quality applications across the state,” said Irv Halter, executive director of DOLA.

These long-term rent subsidies, in combination with the $48 million in equity estimated to be generated from the sale of the LIHTC awarded to the five developments, and the capacity building efforts of the Pathways Home Supportive Housing Toolkit is expected to increase the number of high-quality PSH units available across Colorado by 254 percent.

In addition to the improved health status and reduced emergency services for PSH residents, these projects are expected to provide a significant economic impact to their respective communities. Pathways Village, a 40-unit PSH project that participated the Pathways Home Supportive Housing Toolkit and recently broke ground in Grand Junction, is estimated to generate $11 million in economic impact and support 53 jobs.

“CHFA is pleased to see how the Pathways Home Supportive Housing Toolkit is helping stakeholders advance their goals to best leverage resources and partnerships required to address homelessness in their communities. We have been proud to support the development of 282 permanent supportive homeless housing units with tax credits this year. In fact, due to the success of the Toolkit, this is the highest number of homeless housing units supported in any single-year in CHFA’s history,” said Cris White, executive director and CEO of CHFA.

Crow Tribe Ground Breaking article from MT Housing Division 10/23/14

Crow Tribe breaks ground on Apsaalooke Warrior Apartments

Montana Board of Housing allocates $2.5 million in Housing Credits towards project.

Author: Penny Cope/Thursday, October 23, 2014/Categories: Uncategorized

Crow Tribe officials and the Apsaalooke Nation Housing Authority broke ground for a military veterans housing complex.

According to Crow Tribe Chairman Darrin Old Coyote, there are more than 1,000 veterans in Big Horn County. Of those, two-thirds are from the Crow Reservation.

Financing for the complex comes from the Affordable Housing Program through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle and the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act.

It is the first development to receive Low-Income Housing Tax Credits on Crow Nation land. There was also a $2.5 million allocation awarded by the Montana Board of Housing and syndicated by Enterprise Community Investment, Inc.

“I want to thank the Montana Board of Housing for this tax credit project that came into reality for us and we are looking at another project to add more housing for our people,” Old Coyote said.

The complex will feature E-Star appliances, low-water plumbing and energy-efficient heating and cooling.


Apsaalooke Warrior Apartments Article from Rural Communities Assistance Corporation

Southern Montana’s Crow Tribe works to house its homeless veterans

By Elizabeth Zach, RCAC staff writer

On the windy plains of the Crow Reservation in southern Montana, young men scramble across scaffolding amid massive fans and turbines, measuring door widths and sweeping the cement floors across this dusty construction site.

Mary L. LaForge walks the halls of the building’s skeleton, pointing into doorways that will one day open into airy apartments.

“We’re getting there, slowly, and we’re proud of how it’s coming along,” she says as she gazes out of the windows toward boarded up houses and a cemetery.

The soon-to-be Apsaalookè Warrior Apartments (AWA) complex here is small, but that was by design because this is a trial effort. It includes 15 apartments and office space, and could be any multi-functional building in any town or city in the nation. But these apartments will eventually be home to people who, it could be argued, need it the most: homeless Native American war veterans. The office space, too, will respond to a host of needs neglected for many years, such as benefits counseling and healthcare referrals.

Mary LaForge, Veteran Tribal Outreach Worker, stands in front of the Apsaalookè Warrior Apartments and community space.

In 2010, the Veterans Administration crafted Opening Doors, an ambitious and far-reaching plan to finally house the nation’s 50,000 homeless veterans by the end of this year.

The plan rests on the Housing First approach, whereby housing advocates seek to house homeless people as quickly as possible and then provide healthcare or drug and alcohol treatment services as needed. Prior to 2010, which is when housing advocates adopted the concept, the VA had focused on transitional housing, and offered limited services. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, which reviewed Opening Doors’ progress in 2014, the number of homeless veterans is down by 33 percent since 2010. And VA officials are optimistic they will meet their 2015 goal.

For Native Americans, this initiative is particularly significant. As Gen. Douglas MacArthur once put it, if all Americans served in the Armed Forces at the same rate as Native Americans, there would never be a need for a draft. In 2013, the Veteran’s Administration released a survey of Native Americans in the military, and found that Native American females serve at a higher rate per capita than any other ethnic group. And in the post-9/11 period, Native Americans serve at a higher percentage than veterans of other races, the VA found: 18.6 percent versus 14 percent, respectively.

Veterans Park on the Crow reservation honors the tribe members who have served in the military.

Out of a total population of 13,000 on the Crow reservation, 250 are registered veterans, says LaForge, a Veteran Tribal Outreach Worker. As many as 50 veterans and active military personnel live off the reservation. In recognition of this service, the Department of Veterans Affairs in April awarded $1.2 million to Montana’s Crow Tribe to establish a veterans’ cemetery in Crow Agency, the largest town on the reservation.

The $2.5 million AWA housing project is funded in part by equity from the sale of low-income housing tax credits and also an Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant sponsored by First Interstate Bank. According to Paul Little Light, who, together with LaForge helped launch the project, it serves as an innovative model for housing not only Native American veterans, but homeless veterans in general. The office space will accommodate staff from the Tribal Department of Health and Human Services who will offer courses in financial literacy, and will provide case management, credit counseling, and post-traumatic stress disorder counseling. On-site computers will enable residents to follow or check their e-benefits.

On June 22, the Crow Housing Authority began accepting applications from qualified veterans and by the end of the week, had received 10. But Little Light says interest in the apartments is strong and, “We expect an overflow of applications. “

He added that the housing is aimed at veterans of the wars in Korea and Vietnam, and rents will be set at 30 percent of a tenant’s monthly income. We’re not going to be able to help everyone.”

To make the apartments a reality, Little Light joined forces with Zoe LeBeau, President of LeBeau Development LLC, who works with Tribes on supportive housing throughout the nation, and housing developer Blue Line, Inc. To finance the complex’s infrastructure, labor and machinery, Little Light prepared an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) application with assistance from California-based Walking Shield Inc., which works with the Department of Defense on programs related to veteran shelter and healthcare. Housing materials from homes being torn down on Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana were also brought to the project. With everything in place for construction, a VISTA volunteer was recruited to develop a service plan for the veterans at the AWA.

“This was the fastest supportive housing project I’ve ever worked on,” said LeBeau. “The Tribe was completely dedicated to getting this done, and had all the right people and departments at the table.”

Both Little Light and LaForge are veterans themselves. LaForge served in the U.S. Air Force from 1977 until 1983; and Little Light served in the U.S. Army from 1995 until 1998.

Casper Housing Authority article about rehabilitation of the Star Apartments from 11/24/14

Casper housing group receives $9 million for Star Apartments rehab

November 24, 2014 3:30 pm  • 

The Wyoming Community Development Authority has granted a Casper housing group $9 million in tax credits and home funds to rehabilitate the decrepit Star Apartments.

The money means Casper Housing Authority and Montana developer Blueline can begin creating architectural drawings and finalizing details on the 50-unit CentrePoint apartments, which will cater to both market rate and subsidized renters.

Kim Summerall-Wright, executive director of the housing authority, expects that process to take about three months.

Abatement and demolition will follow. Summerall-Wright believes construction will take another 14 months before the 60,000-square-foot space is finally rehabilitated.

“To know it’s going to be revitalized, and what that means to downtown, knowing we have so many people on the waiting list, and knowing there’s going to be more housing … we were literally dancing in our office when we got the news,” Summerall-Wright said of the project.

The housing authority purchased the 66-year-old building with $480,000 from the city of Casper after the city condemned the building, which violated a wealth of health and safety codes, and evicted more than 40 tenants.

It was one of several apartments closed or condemned within just a few months of one another in 2013, leaving many poverty-stricken people in limbo in an already tight housing market.

“It was scary for a little while there when people had no place to go,” Summerall-Wright said.

The low-income tax credits are designed for projects that serve a distinct housing need in communities across the state, and rehabilitating the Star Apartments fit the bill, said Gayle Brownlee, director of federal programs at the Community Development Authority.

Brownlee said the organization receives two to three times the amount of requests it can fill with its allotted federal money, making the tax credits highly competitive. The program ranks projects based on criteria like design quality and community need.

The Star Apartments are a little different from recent Casper projects that have received money because they involve rehabilitation of an old building instead of construction of a new one, Brownlee said.

“It’s going to make a comfortable, safe, decent home for citizens,” Brownlee said. “It’s not going to be an eyesore anymore, and the people living there are going to be in a safe environment.”

Reach Tom Dixon at 307-266-0616 or Follow him on Twitter: @DixonTrib.

Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program brings Revenue to Wyoming

BlueLine makes the news in Wyoming for upcoming tax credit developments.

See Video

WCDA announces allocations for 2015. BlueLine to develop in Riverton and Casper, Wyoming

WCDA Awards $2.8 Million for Affordable Housing Statewide » Press Releases

Friday, November 14, 2014

Casper – On November 13, 2014, the Wyoming Community Development Authority (WCDA) Board of Directors approved the allocation of approximately $1.45 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and $1.05 million in HOME Investment Partnership Program funds to affordable housing developments across Wyoming. The tax credits and HOME funds, which are allocated by the WCDA through a competitive application process, will finance the development of a total of 94 rental units in four multifamily projects.

The LIHTC and HOME funds will help finance the following affordable housing developments:

    • Copper Mountain Apartments in Riverton, submitted by Wyoming Housing Network and Blue Line Development, will receive tax credit funding for a 12-unit new construction, affordable housing project.
    • Wolf Creek Apartments in Riverton, submitted by Wyoming Housing Network and Blue Line Development, will receive tax credit and TCAP (Tax Credit Assistance Program) funding for a 12-unit new construction, affordable, senior housing project.
    • Tigee Village, submitted by Eastern Shoshone Housing Authority, will receive tax credit funding for a 20-unit, new construction, affordable housing project on the Wind River Reservation.
  • CentrePoint, submitted by Casper Housing Authority and Blue Line Development, will receive tax credit and HOME funds for the rehabilitation of a 50-unit, affordable housing project.

To rank within the application evaluation process, developers must demonstrate that the proposed project not only meets the community’s housing needs, but also serves the appropriate in-need population as determined by income levels, rent levels, age, special needs, family size and other demographic factors. The developers determine these needs through market feasibility studies and research.

Projects that meet the minimum underwriting criteria and rank high enough in the competitive allocation process receive an annual allocation of Low Income Housing Tax Credits for ten years, which are sold to third party investors through syndicators which then is a source of equity in these multi-family rental projects. The four approved projects are anticipated to bring in $12.85 million in capital from out of state through the syndication of the tax credits. Projects that receive Low Income Housing Tax Credits must rent to tenants with household incomes at or below 60% of Area Median Income.

The HOME Investment Partnerships program is a long term, low interest rate debt program that is most often used in Wyoming to finance the development of affordable multi-family apartments. WCDA requires HOME funds to be repaid over a maximum 40 year period at a 3% interest rate. Projects that apply for HOME funds must go through the same competitive allocation process as Low Income Housing Tax Credit projects and must rent to tenants at or below 50% of Area Median Income.

In October 2014, the Wyoming Housing Network hosted grand openings for both Cedar Mountain Apartments and Ironwood Apartments in Cody and Powell respectively. Both Cedar Mountain & Ironwood Apartments are 12-unit affordable housing developments which were awarded LIHTC & HOME funding in April 2013.

For more information, contact the WCDA at (307) 265-0603.

Media Contact
Tara Smith
WCDA Communications Manager
(307) 265-0603

Apsaalooke Warrior Apartments on C-Span

May 8, 2014

House Rep Steven Daines announces the ground breaking of Apsaalooke Warrior Apartments and discusses the needs of the Crow Tribe for affordable housing.

See Video

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