The booming marijuana industry, coinciding with the recovering economy, has contributed to the highest prices and lowest vacancies for warehouse space that we’ve ever seen in this region.  This week, the Denver Post highlighted one organization whose work has been directly impacted.  Toys for Tots – Denver Region hasn’t been able to secure space for their seasonal toy drive here in Denver.  This has impacted their kick off and has the potential to cut into the amount they can give back to the community.  And, yes, I was quoted accurately in the article as stating, “That’s bonkers.”  Because it is!

Photo credit: Marine Sgt. Phillip Sena, middle, and Cpl. Daniel Kravchuk, right, prepare a Toys for Tots collection box for The Courtyard at Lakewood, a retirement community. The Marines are kicking off their holiday program. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)

Photo credit: Marine Sgt. Phillip Sena, middle, and Cpl. Daniel Kravchuk, right, prepare a Toys for Tots collection box for The Courtyard at Lakewood, a retirement community. The Marines are kicking off their holiday program. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)

Denver Post reporter Elizabeth Hernandez reached out to us for insight how Toys for Tots’ experience relates to what’s happening in the market.  Theirs is not just a one-off story.  This is part of a trend that we see little indication of ending any time soon.  As the real estate market continues to heat up, nonprofits are left in a precarious position.  We get calls weekly from nonprofits on the hunt for a new home, concerned about rising rents, or seeking creative solutions to facilities expense.  The challenge impacts all types of nonprofits, but is especially obvious for those organizations that rely on light industrial or warehouse space to do their work.  Energy efficiency, food bank storage and distribution, and electronics recycling – all of these are services provided by local nonprofits.  And all of these require significant warehousing to get the job done.  Without quality, affordable space to do their work, they are all at risk of moving out of the area or shuttering their operations altogether.

We would like to advocate for a coordinated strategy to ensure nonprofits have access to affordable, quality space.  However, until we know the real scope of the challenge – beyond case-by-case stories like this one – it is unclear what exactly that coordinated strategy should be.  We invite you to join in the 2015 Nonprofit Space Survey to make sure we have a full picture of the nonprofit real estate landscape.  This is a partnership with the Nonprofit Centers Network and the Mile High Community Loan Fund, and will equip the sector with the information we need to help mitigate this growing real estate crisis.