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Deal of the Week: New apartment building Downtown could help with affordable housing crunch

The skinny

Nearly two years after getting its funding, the Sterling Downtown apartment building has opened.

The numbers

The four-story, 78,000-square-foot development was funded through an $8.6 million multifamily housing revenue bond from Bernalillo County, $4 million from the city of Albuquerque Workforce Housing Trust Fund, nearly $600,000 from a New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority tax credit and $1 million through the New Mexico Housing Trust Fund.

The details

The building has 101 units, plus six that are ADA-accessible. Sterling Downtown will be home to individuals and families with incomes at or below 30 to 60 percent of the Albuquerque median income, according to a news release. Amenities for the Sterling include a washer and dryer, bike storage and repair space, an exercise room, bulk storage and a fourth-floor internet café with a rooftop deck. The building is believed to be among the first in the state registered with the WELL Building Institute, meaning design and construction are intended to help support the health and well-being of residents.

Sterling was also designed to meet LEED certification, which was created by the U.S. Green Building Council for "buildings, homes and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance."

The players

The Greater Albuquerque Housing Partnership was the building’s developer. Dekker/Perich/Sabatini was the architect and Bradbury Stamm was the project’s general contractor.

Why it’s significant

The hourly wage to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Albuquerque is $16.79, according to a new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Based on a "fair market rent" of $873 for a two-bedroom apartment, the average worker has to have 1.3 jobs, based on the mean hourly renter wage of $12.84 in the Albuquerque metropolitan statistical area. Renters earning minimum wage would have to work 2.2 jobs to pay rent.

Cities must quickly build more affordable housing in order to truly address their issues with homelessness, Fast Company recently reported. Albuquerque’s unsheltered homeless population decreased 80 percent from 2009 to 2016, according to a survey from the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National Alliance to End Homelessness. Still, Albuquerque remains above the national average, with a homeless rate of 21.9 per 10,000 people, compared to the national average of 16.9.

Making more affordable housing available for our city’s low-income population can be an important tool in improving our economy.

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