COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (KKTV) – It’s a recurring nightmare for Calvin Newton.
He had lived in Taylor Apartments near Fillmore and Nevada for more than a decade. The complex was intended exclusively for seniors 55+ until it was sold in 2020. The new owners opened the complex to tenants of all ages and also raised the rent, which Newton could no longer pay. In February 2021, he moved to the Arcadia Plaza Apartments, just blocks from Taylor.
“It’s the last place I had to go,” Newton said. “I thought, ‘I would be here all my life.'”
But this dream changed suddenly at the end of July. According to a letter Newton shared with 11 News, the owner had sold the complex. Just one week after receiving this notification, the new property management company, Atlas Real Estate Group, sent letters with the new rent.
“I paid $ 785 and they increased it to nearly $ 1,500 a month,” Newton said.
He shared his lease with 11 News, which revealed that he had paid $ 785 for a monthly agreement. According to the lease, this price included “heating, water, sewage, garbage collection, high-speed internet and limited satellite TV service”.
The lease renewal notice Newton received from Atlas said his rent would be $ 975 per month plus $ 125 for the Ratio utility billing system for a 12 month lease. If he wanted to go month-to-month as with his previous lease, it would cost him $ 1,170 plus 125 rubles a month. The new rents came into effect on September 1st.
“I don’t know how to afford it because I only get $ 1,251 a month in Social Security,” Newton said.
11 News reached out to Atlas Real Estate Group. A property manager confirmed the complex will be open and pet-friendly to renters of all ages. No pets have been allowed so far. The company declined to be interviewed on camera but delivered 11 News that statement:
âAs the property management team of the new owner of the Arcadia Plaza Apartments, we make sure to comply with all Colorado Fair Housing laws. We aim to work with the residents here to help them transition to new owners. We also work with local senior services to provide supportive resources to residents when needed. In addition, this property has become compliant as a community for all ages and will be pet friendly in the future. â
Newton said he was upset about the changes at Arcadia and Taylor.
âWhat are we doing in this country to hold up the 55+ sign? How can all these people around us hold on to it, and these people come in and just throw it away like it doesn’t mean anything? It means a lot to the old folks, âNewton said.
Another man who lives in Arcadia also shared his frustration on 11 News.
Philip Selva is 79 years old. He told 11 News that he lived in Arcadia for about three years.
âThe rent increase. I felt like it was just a little more than I was comfortable with, âhe said.
Selva said he could pay the higher rent but decided to find a cheaper apartment.
âI don’t have a lot of options right now,â he said.
That’s one of Colorado Springs’ main problems: a lack of affordable housing.
âIf older adults pack and move in less than a year, it costs money. It’s tough on the body, and when you don’t have the money to pay people to pack and move your things, it’s really hard for them to do it themselves, “said Melissa Marts. She works as a program development administrator for the Pikes Peak Area Agency on Aging.
“My job is to examine gaps in services for older adults and find ways to meet some of those needs, and housing continues to be one of the greatest needs,” Marts said.
She said it was almost impossible to find a senior citizen’s apartment in the short term.
âEach of these low-income or senior apartment complexes has a waiting list. They estimate their waiting lists to be three to five years, âsaid Marts.
Following the situation at the Taylor Apartments, Marts said the Pikes Peak Area Agency on Aging had funded two housing coordinator positions to help seniors with housing issues. One position was posted through Colorado Legal Services; the other through Silver Key Senior Services.
“I’m glad they’re here, but they’re not enough,” Marts said.
As she pondered solutions to the affordable housing crisis, Marts said she would like to see the city mandate a percentage of affordable housing.
âThat was something that wasn’t really appealing in the past, but it’s something that could continue to resonate and eventually happen. That would be great, âshe said. “We just need to have more of those options out there.”
She said she also wanted coordinated efforts to streamline waiting lists for senior housing.
âIt’s really frustrating and you call over 20 places and it’s just a waste of time for everyone including the people on the other end who take the calls and say, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, no. We have nothing, ‘âsaid Marts. “However, if there was a coordinated place where people could sort of check-in and let all these senior complexes manage this system from one unit, maybe there is a possibility.”
She said another option is Sunshine Home Share. It’s a program that brings older adults together so they can share the rental cost.
“For people, older adults, who would like to make a little extra income by renting part of their home to another older adult, we need more of that conversation,” Marts said.
11 News also spoke to Colorado Springs Councilor Nancy Henjum about what the city can do to protect senior housing.
“It’s painful isn’t it?” She said. “It’s really hard to see fixed income seniors who don’t have a place now.”
Henjum said there wasn’t much the city council could do to keep the senior housing developments after they were bought by new owners.
“The market is driving this, so it is unfortunate that something like this will happen in a free market society,” she said.
One thing Henjum said she would like to see more of is property owners investing in the community – not just from a financial perspective.
“Owning property is also about being part of a community, a healthy and thriving community that really cares about the health of all of its citizens,” she said.
Henjum also agreed with Marts, saying it would be great if homeowners could make some of their units available to rent out at a lower price.
âI think we start with incentives. I think we’re looking at what the incentives are to make this happen, âshe said. “I think we can and should examine what incentives we can do to help all builders, all developers, regardless of whether they are new buildings or existing buildings.”
Henjum said she is working with a group called the Affordable Housing Collaborative to find solutions to the affordable housing crisis that would benefit people of all ages.
“So what are some specific suggestions for real dollars that might be available through community development, through some of the federal funds we have that has come down, maybe some money coming through the county that we can actually turn over, to continue? to deal with this housing crisis? âsaid Henjum.
The group has a meeting for Wednesday, September 29th.
“I think everyone deserves to have a place where they can lay their head at night and feel like they have a place where they can be, and that serves a healthy community, a thriving community”, said Henjum.
Until some concrete changes are made, Newton is looking for a cheaper apartment. He said Silver Key is helping him pay some of the higher rent in Arcadia until he finds a new home.
âIt’s just so unfair. It may be legal, but it’s just wrong, âNewton said. âAnd as I said, if we do it here, what’s stopping you from going elsewhere? You can buy anything in Colorado Springs. “
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