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LIVE Denver Has Residents Feeling Good

A recent tweet from Country Time Lemonade made a big splash on social media: Faced with high-profile cases of individuals reporting children's lemonade stands for lack of permitting, they quickly organized the best response possible. Country Time will now be providing assistance for the licensure and legal expenses of any child’s lemonade stand that is victim to such adult foolishness.

The tweet was highly active and widely received with a smile. Cases like these highlight an aspect of marketing that comes further forward in the minds of consumers as the Millennial generation ages into key demographics: Corporate social responsibility.

More so than ever before, corporate social responsibility actions are dictating markets. In a 2017 study by Cone Communications, a reported 87 percent of Americans answered that they would purchase a product because a company stood up for an issue that they cared about. Seventy-six percent even said that they would refuse business if they learned a company advocated contrary to their beliefs. In specific, they found Millennials 10 percent more likely to research and act on those factors. Further, 71 percent of Millennials are looking to business not just to speak up, but to lead on issues they care about.

In an age of instant gratification, efforts like this are increasingly important to customers choosing who should receive their business; a fact not lost on Nancy Burke of the Apartment Association of Metro Denver (AAMD).

Her involvement in the inception of the LIVE Denver program, which is now flourishing, has provided a valuable illustration of the immense social benefit that the business community can achieve when its mind is set to one purpose.

“A member of mine was then and is now committed to the idea that we should be bringing solutions to the table regarding affordable housing,” Burke says. “We believe in showing the community that we are not the ‘money-counting monopoly man’ that we are sometimes painted as.

“We were finding that companies in Denver were having a problem recruiting talent. We were on a fast track to becoming a ‘second choice’ city. The housing costs had led to many top flight recruits in many fields to turn elsewhere for employment because of high housing costs, which obviously couldn’t be allowed to continue unnoticed.”

This intersection of problems set the stage for the LIVE Denver program, which is now in its second year of piloting. The program is a public-private partnership between businesses and foundations contributing money or volunteering apartment units, and the city of Denver. The last participant is a qualifying citizen, who signs a lease with a participating property management company with a short addendum that brings them under the LIVE Denver umbrella.

The local apartment industry, driven largely by independent operators and small companies, found 400 units to bring under the program. Each recipient contributes 35 percent of their income to rent payment, and the rest is paid for by contributions to the LIVE fund. The Denver Housing Authority administrates the program in conjunction with the Denver Office of Economic Development.  

“We started this from the ground up; there was no blueprint,” says Burke. “But with the help of the city, our members and a lot of community-responsible businesses and foundations, we were able to create from scratch this program that is now making an impact on housing affordability in the Denver area. We are helping property owners fill their units, we are helping businesses recruit better talent, but most importantly we are helping people find their homes in our area, and that means a lot to the consumer, but it also means a lot to us at AAMD.”

The program has been a resounding success, and is being studied by big metros nationwide, and could show up in your city soon. By utilizing the influence of corporate social responsibility, Nancy, the AAMD and the city of Denver are taking the lemons of high demand for housing that the market gave them and making sweet LIVE lemonade.

Learn more about LIVE Denver, or contact Nancy Burke at [email protected].