Voces Unidas understood that we could make a difference by offering our voice in support of the Protections for Mobile Home Park Residents bill (HB22-1287) that was signed into law last spring. And just a few short months after the law took effect in October, we’re proud (and thankful) to see our support translate into action benefitting some of our community members in the central mountain region.
Frozen water pipes are a threat to anyone living in the central mountains during the frigid Colorado winter, but without legal protections for those filing complaints against negligent landlords, the threat can be magnified exponentially. That was the case for several residents of the Farmers Korner Mobile Home Park in Frisco, when the outdoor plumbing froze to the point it became unusable for more than a month in the depths of winter surrounding the Christmas holiday.
With no running water for toilets, showers, dishwashing, or other routine tasks – and no response from the landlord – residents (more than 90% of whom are Latino) didn’t know where to turn. Fortunately, they found us.
Mateo Lozano serves as the Regional Organizing Manager in the Frisco office for Voces Unidas. Through his organizing and outreach efforts, he has become a trusted resource for many in the surrounding community. He received a call from some of the impacted residents at Farmers Korner who sought help but were afraid to file a complaint with the landlord for fear of retaliation. With an understanding of the legal protections the new law provided mobile home park residents, Mateo immediately contacted the local health department and began working toward a resolution.
An ongoing investigation suggests this was not the first time such issues have occurred at Farmers Korner, with many residents claiming it’s a recurring problem that the landlord failed to fix as recently as last summer. With winter upon us, the situation has escalated to a full-blown health emergency, drawing the attention of the state health department. Formal complaints have been filed on the residents’ behalf and the oversight program established by last year’s legislation has begun documenting and addressing the abuses to residents with legal action hanging in the balance.
Fear of retaliation by the property owner toward residents is a legitimate concern, and something we and our partner organizations must continue to monitor and take actions to prevent. At the very least, rents for residents are likely to be raised, which is unfair considering that landlords are providing the absolute minimum quality standards.
Voces Unidas will continue working to remedy these additional issues at the legislative level by monitoring and supporting bills designed to specifically address water quality issues at mobile home parks, limiting the amounts landlords can raise rents each year in mobile home parks, and establishing a “just cause evictions” law that clarifies who can be evicted and for what reasons. All three of these issues have landed on our list of policy priorities for the freshly minted 2023 Colorado Legislative Session and we will be working with a coalition of aligned partners to pursue potential legislation where feasible.
Follow our “Bill Tracker” at www.vocesunidasaction.org/policy for up-to-date information about our positions on bills.