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Tenant Stories

Hear from directly impacted people and their struggles with rising costs.

A few days before Christmas the property manager called me and said that someone in a tax credit apartment in my building would be moving out, and offered me the available tax credit for the unit I’m in! She said that each apartment building on the property has to have 4 tax credit units. She also said that if someone who was currently living in a tax credit unit moves out, she has the ability to offer anyone in another unit in the same building who may need rental assistance she could make that unit she could/would offer a tax credit to them.

  I signed a new lease in July/August of 2021 for a flat rent price of $1455/month. My utilities are added to the rental amount (although everyone receives a separate bill from Great American Utility Co.) and the entire amount is written to the complex. How the complex pays Great American Utility I don’t know. 

  Near the end of January 2022, I signed a new lease for $1136/month (starting February 1st,  2022) covering rent AND utilities! What a relief! A savings of at least $319/mo?! Crazy! 

  I haven’t been able to pay my entire rent amount for a number of years now, my folks have been helping me with the rest. As of 2022, I’m receiving $1292/month (a 5.9% increase) in SSI. My folks will still be helping me, but WOW! I’ve usually paid the majority of my rent, and my folks pick up whatever is leftover (+ utilities). I will continue to pay the majority of the rent, but my folks will continue to pick up the rest ($250/month).

Someone may ask why I haven’t gotten this before since I’ve been living there since 2003. That’s a long(er) story so let bygones be bygones. 

  My unit is a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom unit COMPLETELY WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE! I had a roommate, but have been living alone for quite a few years now. I don’t want a smaller unit as I use the empty bedroom to store my medical supplies and a power chair. The garages are an additional $90/month.

Most of my struggle in the past regarding housing was due to low wages and the general nature of housing being expensive and continually increasing in Colorado. I have never been able to live alone, I have always had roommates whether it be strangers or friends/family. Rent control would have certainly alleviated a portion of this issue.

The most recent issue in which rent control would have helped was at the last apartment complex I lived in. It was nearing lease renewal time, and I had received a notice of new rates if I would be renting for another term. I was very frustrated because they were increasing the rent by 7-10% and I remember recalling I have never even received a yearly raise that was that much! I emailed my property manager to set up a meeting to discuss the lease renewal, and they mentioned they would not discuss pricing. However, with a significant increase such as that, I persisted and tried to talk to the property manager about it. During my discussion with the property manager she flat out told me “I don’t care, I would rather you move out so we could lease the unit at or above market rate and you should be thankful we aren’t raising your rent to market rate.” I was frustrated that they were also increasing our pet rent and I mentioned that I am renting the same unit and you are not offering any additional amenities or upgrades, so what is the rationale for increasing my rent? The ultimate response I received was, “Your unit is below market rate, and   unfortunately there is nothing I can do the reduce the increase for you.”

After that conversation, I was angry and discussed looking into what programs were available to assist first-time home buyers so my wife and I could buy a home since we would just be charged more and more every year for the same living space. We did end up buying a home but the situation was less than ideal and will ultimately end up paying more for the house than if we were able to save enough money renting to go the traditional route. However, I doubt we would have ever been able to go the traditional route and save up enough money when our rent was expected to increase yearly. If I had rent control there would have been a much better opportunity to save money to purchase a home by saving enough money for a conventional loan option. Instead, we made the tough decision of increasing our cost of living and buying a home under an FHA loan with down payment assistance, when it was much less affordable and opportune for us to do so. In the end, though the extra costs are what we rationalized as the opportunity cost of having our housing cost mostly fixed year over year as opposed to renting and continually having our housing cost increase.

Without rent control, I see a lot of people forced into a similar situation where they will never be able to save enough money to buy a home if they want to and if they were to consider buying a home they may also have to go a route that is more costly. The non-conventional routes that people can take to buy a home over renting (FHA loans, first-time home buyer assistance programs, etc.) are just another instance where it’s more expensive to be poor or at a low income. I see many Coloradans faced with a similar situation of accepting their housing cost year over year renting or stressing their budget to purchase a home to have some stability.

My name is Maria Rojas and I am a member of 9to5 Colorado. My family, my husband, my three daughters, and I, have lived in my apartment for 7 years. Coming to this apartment in 2014, my husband was paying $800 and now we’re paying $1,245–and this doesn’t include the cost of garbage and water. Now we pay most of our income to rent and also at the start of ​​this month, March, we got the news that our rent was going to go up by $135. Additionally, every time we renew our contract each year our rent goes up. Since living here, it has never stopped climbing. With the increase every year, we do not see any changes in the apartments. They could paint the walls or change the counter that comes with the apartment, but they don’t change or fix anything. Or, for example, maintenance could improve as well. Our air conditioner didn’t work for two years and we told them several times until it was finally fixed last year. Right now too, we found mold in the bathroom and they told us that it is normal because of the water and no one has come to fix it.

Since the pandemic started, my husband has been given fewer hours at work and he doesn’t work every day. When he got sick with COVID or last month with a bad flu, all of that affected us. His job in construction also means that when it snows, he can’t work and it may be that during those months we don’t have enough rent. All this and additionally having a rent increase causes a lot of pressure on my family. We often live paycheck to paycheck–and it affects our children, too. There are times that on the weekend it is not enough to buy a pizza or rent a movie and it affects me and my husband emotionally. Rent increases must be limited or stopped to allow families to recover from the pandemic that still affects us all.

My name is Yasira Sanchez, I am a resident of Aurora and a member of United for a New Economy. UNE is a multiracial organization that builds people power for racial and economic justice for all Coloradans.

I am a single mother of 2 kids, ages 6, and 7. I came to Aurora 3 years ago, seeking asylum from Honduras. I am still waiting on the courts to decide on my case. I work cleaning offices Monday through Friday, which only provides me with 25 hours of work a week at $15 an hour. I’ve been looking for full-time work or even a second job, but that is hard to come by. I make $1,625 a month and my rent is $1,200 for a 2-bedroom apartment. That does not leave much leftover, except for food. We need rental assistance for lower-income households like mine.

I wish that my story was unique, but I know many other families that are in the same situation. Last year, UNE and 9to5 Colorado partnered with the Human Impact Partners to research the impact of rising housing costs on health equity in Colorado.

What we saw was the pandemic had only worsened the situation for renters in Colorado:

·      1 in 5 renter households, and 1 in 3 households with children, weren’t confident they could make next month’s rental payments.

·      Two-thirds of households with children thought it was likely they would be evicted.

More needs to be done to ensure that those of us who are extremely low income and low-income households have access to rental units and future developments must include units at 30% AMI and below. Keep families like mine in mind as you make funding and policy recommendations to ensure there is truly affordable housing for those that need it most.