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Volunteers of America affordable housing tenant raises maintenance concerns

Brunetti Lofts.jpg
Posted at 4:57 PM, Dec 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-03 03:07:38-05

DENVER – A tenant living at Brunetti Lofts, an affordable housing complex in Denver’s River North (RiNo) neighborhood, is sharing concerns over the maintenance of the building.

“Windows we have to tape up just to keep bugs out… the main door doesn't close. If it rains, it literally just floods,” said Shanelle Hughes, Brunetti Lofts tenant.

Hughes said some of the flooring in her entry way is worn and coming up, and there are also concerns about shared spaces.

“There was so much trash on the playground, we've had the trash room be full and we were unable to put our trash anywhere for days,” Hughes said.

Hughes said she moved into this affordable housing building because she needed more space for her family and wants to eventually buy a home.

“Brunetti Lofts is an affordable housing program that residents — they can stay here for five years. And within that five years, they help you to become a homeowner,” Hughes said.

But Hughes can’t see herself living here for five years.

“I'm speaking out because even though it's really scary… I don't know where else to go,” Hughes said.

Frustrated with the situation, Hughes filed a report with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. They inspected the apartment and found several issues.

Volunteers of America operates the Brunetti Loft and said their goal is to put a roof over the heads of people who might otherwise be homeless.

Leaders of the organization said they had no record of formal complaints from Hughes and wish she would have reached out to them before calling HUD.

“Contact the property manager, contact maintenance, leave a note. You know, anything in writing is great,” said Jon Ewing, Volunteers of America communications manager.

Ewing said Volunteers of America was aware of the trash issue but hit some roadblocks trying to replace a vendor who left them in the lurch.

“A vendor we'd worked with for years and years and years sold his company to people who were working out of state, and it became very, very, very difficult to get them to come in and pick up the trash,” Ewing said.

Ewing said they found a new vendor, and the issue was resolved in two weeks. But he said in general, Brunetti Lofts has a unique set of challenges.

“A lot of these people are people who, well, all of them are people who were experiencing homelessness, coming off the streets, coming off bad situations. And it takes a long time to readjust,” Ewing said.

Ewing said if there’s an issue in a unit, they want to solve it.

“I can't promise it will get done that day. It'll get done in a timely manner, though,” Ewing said. “We're on your side, you're living here. Because we're on your side, we have your back.”

But Hughes said she doesn’t feel that way.