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Housing increasingly out of reach for elderly Coloradans as prices, access decline

Denver rents up just slightly in August; 3 percent increase in past year
Posted at 8:47 PM, Sep 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-29 11:19:56-04

DENVER — Randel Loeb has been biking around Denver for more than 30 years. He has witnessed the city change as thousands of new residents have come in, bringing opportunity and growth, but also traffic and inflation.

He lives in emergency housing downtown to help compromised individuals survive the pandemic. Committed to helping others find housing his entire life, he now finds himself at the same crossroads. The housing, which is situated in a hotel, will end in December.

"I'm going to find somewhere to go with my things. But for many people, they don't have that option," Loeb said. "They'll be in shelters, like Salvation Army and the Rescue Mission, places that basically are almost always taking care of people day and night."

Loeb says he is trying to help his neighbors find housing, many of them in their 60s and 70s. He says he will be working for the rest of his life.

"My father stopped working in his 60s," Loeb said. "I probably won't stop working until I'm in my 80s."

He is not alone. New statistics first obtained by The Denver Post show how difficult living in Denver has become for an aging population. According to 2020 census data, one in five people have struggled to pay rent,. That number jumps to one in three in those ages 65 and older.

Rent in Denver has now surpassed $1,650, on average.

"One of the biggest challenges we're facing right now is homeless, older adults or those that are about to be homeless," said Jayla Sanchez-Warren, the director of the Area Agency on Aging in Denver. "Probably about 40% of our calls right now are related to housing for those who are homeless."

Sanchez-Warren says the problem is not only here to stay, it is getting worse.

"This is supposed to be the golden years. For some people, it is, and for some people, it's not. And it's getting harder and harder," she said. "They worked really hard their whole life, but now rent is $1,600 and their retirement is $1,000. What do you do?"