DENVER — DENVER —- Relief came just before the eleventh hour for tenants at the Clarkson Lodge, many of whom had been preparing to move out with short notice.
On Feb. 28, renters at the Clarkson Lodge told Denver7 they'd been informed the building was sold, and they'd have to be moved out by March 14. The Lodge is a boarding house in Denver's Capitol Hill neighborhood.
"People knew that we were having to move out of here before we knew that we had to move out," one man said at the time, on the condition of anonymity.
Just days after story was published, lawyers at the nonprofit Colorado Poverty Law Project (CPLP) contacted Denver7 hoping to intervene on behalf of the tenants. The nonprofit aims to prevent homelessness through legal services, education and advocacy.
On Thursday, the group's efforts proved fruitful. New notices were posted at the Clarkson Lodge notifying tenants the move-out date had been extended.
"The deadline has now moved from March 14 to April 30, so an additional six weeks," said Tom Snyder, founder and president of CPLP.
Snyder explained the initial notice given to tenants violated both state law and Denver municipal code.
"First, the City of Denver has a ordinance, or municipal code provision, that requires at least 30 days notice prior to shutting down, whether you're an apartment building, hotel, motel, lodge, boarding house, rooming house, etc. [and] the state law requires there be a three-week notice for month-to-month tenants in advance of the next tenancy period. So that would have been 21 days in advance of the next month," he said.
Michael Boyd, a tenant at the boarding house, was overcome with emotion when he learned of the news.
"It's somewhat of a weight off of my shoulder just by having a little bit more time," he said. "I work every day. I mean, I literally go to work, up at 3 a.m., so this gives us a little more time."
Denver7's messages to the owner of the Clarkson Lodge were never returned. However, CPLP was able to make contact with the owner's lawyer.
"We had to send a letter threatening to file a lawsuit, seeking a restraining order because the notice did not provide adequate time," Snyder said. "The landlord's attorney looked at this situation and I think agreed with our analysis here that not enough time was being provided."
Now with an extension confirmed, CPLP plans to help tenants find new housing options.
"We're reaching out to a bunch of service providers in Denver to see what sorts of available resources they have at their disposal right now," said Olivia Kohrs, a lawyer with CPLP. "We're hopeful that working with the City of Denver and working with these service providers... we can create a community event to connect folks with the services they might be able to utilize without having to call a million people, call a bunch of phone numbers and look at a bunch of websites."
"It's very difficult to navigate... particularly for clients with disabilities or clients who may be senior citizens... searching for housing these days. It's very web-based," said Shannon MacKenzie, another lawyer with CPLP. "There's a lot of difficulties navigating systems [and] so putting the right pieces in place and the right providers in place to assist folks navigate those systems has really been key. It's not going to solve the lack of affordable housing in this state, but it definitely helps folks take strides towards even being able to access what's available."
The nonprofit also hopes to address some specific, individual needs of tenants.
"That's what the critical component to this piece is," MacKenzie said. "These are human beings who are being displaced from their homes, and each one has a different set of circumstances that we're really trying to address individually."
"They really do care, they really do. They're really paying attention to us, and they're really actually coming through." Boyd said.
Residents of the Clarkson Lodge have started this gofundme.