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84-year-old Littleton senior struggles to find an affordable home

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Posted at 7:56 PM, Jun 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-03 22:48:53-04

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LITTLETON, Colo. — An 84-year-old renter on a fixed income is up against the clock as she struggles to find a new home with wheelchair accessibility to fit her son’s needs.

She says the waiting lists are long, and her budget is tight.

All of the neighbors know Ethel Runyon as “Nana.” She’s lived off West Burgundy Drive in Littleton for 17 years.

Neighbors describe Runyon as resilient; she’s been dealt a tough hand in life. In 2008, she was diagnosed with cancer, and she had one breast and a kidney removed. In 2017, she had a tumor removed from her lung. In 2019, she lost her husband of 61 years.

“I didn’t expect him to die like that. I thought he would be around and I’d go,” Runyon said.

She is now the main caretaker for her 61-year-old son who is battling sepsis, a disease commonly known as blood poisoning. She said he was diagnosed after a cyst on his wrist became infected.

“They had to do all these surgeries on him — flatlined in three of them. Had six surgeries in a week, and he’s been fighting the battle ever since,” Runyon said.

Her son, Scott Runyon, is currently in the hospital.

“He’s in pretty bad shape,” Runyon said.


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Now, in less than a month, Runyon will bid goodbye to her neighbors and the countless memories she shared with family.

She says she’s been applying and touring numerous apartments, but her fixed income is limiting her options and the waitlists can be up to two years for affordable housing.

Runyon says she needs a two-bedroom apartment with two bathrooms on the first floor so she can easily get her son in and out of the apartment. She feels finding a new home is nearly impossible between of the application fee, the security deposit and first month's rent.

“I told my neighbor across the way, I say, 'Well, I’ll let you know where my tent is,'” Runyon said.

Runyon's neighbors are helping her sell her belongings on Craigslist to help her pay for an apartment.

“If we can get to a couple of hundred dollars for some of the stuff that’s in here, that would be awesome,” a neighbor said.

Finding a home is proving to be tougher than Runyon thought, but she promises to pay forward all the help she gets.

Anyone interested in helping Runyon with her move can donate through Denver7 Gives and selecting "Help Ethel Runyon" in the dropdown menu.