July 17, 2015

Resident Spotlight: Jack Avila | Lamar Station Crossing, Denver

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"I Took Back My Health and My Life"

At 3:05 in the afternoon, Jack Avila walks out of his apartment building and crosses the street after two cyclists pedal past him. At 3:08, he’s already at Lamar Station just in time to board the West Line train in Denver for his doctor’s appointment.

Jack lives at Lamar Station Crossing, a short walk from the train platform, and rides the West Line three times a week. His 45-minute rides never feel that long. If he were to drive, “Sure, it would be faster,” Jack says. “But I haven’t driven for 20 years.” As a resident of Lamar Station Crossing, he has the independence to go where he needs on his own schedule.

Born and raised in Denver, Jack’s only ever left the city for two years to serve in the Army during the Vietnam War. After his service, he returned at the age of 19 to work for the parks department and then for Denargo Markets, distributing produce to the local area. He married and started a family.

In 2011, Jack had to stop working when both multiple sclerosis (MS) and diabetes severely limited his mobility. Jack wondered if he’d be able to walk at all for much longer. In 2013, his wife passed away, and soon after that, his father died. Jack moved in with his mother so they could help each other through their difficult transitions.

Once his mom felt more comfortable living alone, Jack was ready for a place of his own. “I had to get out of my mother’s house because of the way she cooked,” says Jack. “I had to keep my sugar levels down.”

But he knew he needed to live in a transit-accessible area with a rent he could afford. When he first visited Lamar Station Crossing, it felt like home right away. Now he has his own kitchen to prepare nutritious, low-sugar meals, and he’s known for sharing his delicious crock pot soups with the whole floor.

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Jack's focus on healthy eating and going for regular check-ups has transformed his health. With the help of physical therapy, he’s been able to walk and stay active, even using the workout room at Lamar Station Crossing. The doctor treating his MS recently had some good news: Jack is doing so well, he doesn’t have to come back for another year. His diabetes is also under control.

"I took back my health,” Jack says. “And with that, I took back my life."

Without the train station so close by, he can’t imagine how he would get to all his appointments. Jack uses the train to get to nearly everything he needs, from going to the grocery store to visiting his family. He enjoys visiting regularly with his sister in East Denver. He also goes to see his kids, grandkids and great-grandkids in other nearby towns.

“I get to spoil them like I should,” Jack says, with a proud smile on his face.

Enterprise's Role

For the newly created Lamar Station Crossing, Enterprise provided $10.8 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credit equity. Metro West Housing Solutions (MWHS) developed the housing, and received additional funding from Mile High Connects to build new sidewalks and bike paths between the station and the surrounding neighborhood.

Lamar Station Crossing, part of an effort to revitalize an industrial area into a mixed-use, mixed-income, vibrant community, is strategically located near the light rail that takes riders to downtown Denver in less than 20 minutes. The development is Enterprise Green Communities-certified by the Colorado Housing Finance Agency and features a variety of transit and green amenities:

  • Transit access in a walkable, bike-friendly neighborhood: residents are less than a quarter-mile walk from bus and light rail service. The building has on-site bicycle storage, and is adjacent to a new pedestrian and bicyclist bridge that connects to a nearby child care facility, the local elementary school and surrounding community amenities.
  • Renewable Energy: Solar energy provides approximately 14 percent of the building’s annual energy needs. The rest of the building’s power is provided by wind energy credits.
  • Water-Efficiency: A smart landscape irrigation system limits overall water usage 55 percent below the energy standard baseline for residential buildings. Household water use is approximately 34 percent less than the baseline due to low-flow fixtures.

Home to our Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) initiative, Enterprise’s Denver office helps connect affordable housing to transit through a variety of tools, including the Denver Regional TOD Fund – a first-of-its-kind acquisition fund to create and preserve affordable homes along current and future transit corridors in Denver – and Mile High Connects – a partnership of private, public and nonprofit organizations that ensures the equitable treatment of families and communities along the regional transit system.

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