Mariposa District and Housing Development

The Opportunity

At the heart of the South Lincoln neighborhood in Denver, CO, is South Lincoln Homes—a 287-unit development built in 1953. The South Lincoln neighborhood is plagued by violence, and it has high poverty rates, limited access to public transportation, and disproportionately high rates of chronic health conditions, including diabetes, heart problems, asthma, and obesity.


In 2009, the Denver Housing Authority worked with the City of Denver to craft a redevelopment plan for South Lincoln Homes that would improve the health and quality of life for families in the community. The new development—Mariposa—incorporated an innovative design and mixed-income housing.

Innovations and Improvements

Build Positive Relationships:

  • The community plan includes community gardens, courtyards, parks, and playgrounds.

Create Diverse Spaces and Activities

  • Each building has a different architect, and the development incorporates both indoor and outdoor art.

Foster Safety and Support:

  • Mariposa used environmental design to prevent crime and created boundaries between public and private space.

Enhance Accessibility and Inclusion:

  • The community has narrowed car lanes, wider sidewalks, and additional bike lanes, and it provides free bicycles for children.


  • Mariposa uses a health impact assessment tool to track progress toward project goals, and it actively involves the steering committee and residents in decision making.

The Impact

Completed in 2016, Mariposa's innovative, thoughtful design promotes health and physical activity, from its bike share program to its Youth Culinary Academy to its interactive stairwells. In the first three years of the redevelopment process, the crime rate significantly fell by more than 36%. 

The Denver Housing Authority promotes ongoing communications with residents by making it easy for families to give feedback over the phone or in person. Mariposa’s goal is to become “an energized transit community where people to choose to live to experience environmental sustainability, cultural diversity, proximity to downtown, and a spectrum of housing options.”

“Mariposa has been transformed into a healthy, vibrant neighborhood which has been designed to promote economic, environmental, and social vitality.  Mariposa’s culture of change has been adopted and supported by those who live and work in the neighborhood creating a genuine, positive and impressive atmosphere.”—Lynne Picard, Director of Workforce Development & Community Initiatives at the Denver Housing Authority

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