Friday, July 14, 2017
--- A moving experience ---
I have always been interested in community affairs. Among other things I did in Selma, I was a founding member of two community action organizations, the chairperson of a social services quality assurance committee, the temporary president of a disaster relief organization, and a volunteer in several other community organizations. It's no different here in Denver.
In January of 2016, I attended a conference entitled "Talking About the Affordable Housing Crisis: Tools for Delivering Bad News." Now, that would be a funny title if the crisis were not such a disaster. At the time, there was an 80,000 affordable unit deficit and, with property values going up, land owners were evicting tenants so they could refurbish their properties and increase the rents on their houses and apartments. The evicted parties found that they had nowhere to go and whole families were on the street.
Denver has a large homeless population and many of those are evicted tenants. A report by the Denver Foundation in 2015 indicated that one out of ten respondents to a survey to study homelessness had been homeless and one in five had come close. A survey by the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative in 2014 indicated the following causes for the homelessness of respondents: Unemployment (43.9%), Housing costs too high (31.9%), Relationship break up (28.2%), Mental illness (21.3%), and Substance abuse (18.9%). (From "Homelessness in Denver: The Cold, Hard Facts Behind Six Myths" from the Westworld website: http://www.westword.com/news/homelessness-in-denver-the-cold-hard-facts-behind-six-myths-7348310 (accessed 7/13/2017)
I had made two suggestions to reduce some of the homelessness: extended families, and bus tickets to places with lower price of living, more employment, and more affordable housing. I was then an example of how well an extended family works. I was living with 8 others who I considered family, but who were unrelated. Little did I know...
Fast forward to April of 2017, some one had evidently taken a dislike to our extended family because we were informed by a zoning officer that there were too many unrelated individuals living in our house. It was a zoning law that I was not aware of, but there it was. We were being evicted. We were given a month to find a new place in which we would be in compliance with zoning laws, and move.
Digging up the resources, splitting into two households, and finding a new residence was....harrowing, but now, in July, we have settled into a new home. Make no mistake about it, though, it was close.
I believe that one of the problems, though, is that people don't know where to get help. Despite the fact that the zoning laws seem to be archaic and increase the homeless population, Denver is not one of those psychopathic places I have mentioned elsewhere. There are parts of Denver ready to help people in this kind of predicament. For instance, organizations like Colorado Housing Connects and Colorado Legal Services are zealous in helping residents with disputes with their landlords (there is a common perception that, if there is a dispute between a tenant and a land owner, Colorado will always side with the landowner and that there is no help for the tenant). And the local councilman, Kevin Flynn and his assistant Dana Montaño, were eager to help us buy the time we needed to make plans and move.
As to the move, I am no longer in the Bear Creek Valley, but I will not be changing the name of my blog, and I will still be spending considerable time along Bear Creek - after all, it's just on the other side of the South Platte River.