Yesterday, a large number of at-risk residents at Quality Inn received notices on their doors saying they must leave next week, listing different days for different people staggered between September 6th and 9th, although the hotel was set to close September 16th. Multiple married couples received notices being told they will be split up to go to men’s and women’s shelters. This included a couple of 14 years, and another couple of 4 years in which the woman is the legal caregiver for a mentally disabled husband who struggles with reading and writing, dependent on her support. Individuals with pets are told they must make plans to get rid of them, including a dog owner who has raised her dog for 14 years. Elderly people with serious health issues have been assigned check-out days next week to go to a shelter. Everyone in this position has been allotted only a single “garbage bag” quantity of personal belongings. Some of their testimonies are below:
Quotes (each bullet point is a different hotel resident who received a notice):
- “My problem is I have a heart problem. I got a heart murmur. I got a torn valve. I’m illiterate, I can’t read or write very well, but they’re kicking me to some place away from my wife when we’re married. My wife is my pacifier because without her, I wouldn’t know what to do… Last time I was in the shelter they stole my wallet. I had to go through all my stuff. They stole my phone… I had problems trying to get all that stuff back. And now I got everything together. And the program I was thinking would have tried to help out with a voucher or tried to get some kind of stability so I can call myself home… I’m worried about my wife. If she’s at one shelter and I’m at another one and something happens, I don’t know what I’m gonna do… She’s leaving the ninth and they want me to leave on the sixth. Where am I gonna go? I am not gonna sleep in the streets because I’ve been comfortable here. I’m not trying to take advantage of it… And I don’t wanna start crying or anything like that because I know someday God will help us get through this. And we went to two, three places today we put [applications in], but I’m still waiting for my vouchers. They said, as soon as you get your vouchers, you’re gonna come and move in. But I don’t know, that can be two, three months down the line… But we’ve been trying and trying and trying, I’ve been doing this almost 10 years… It’s not working. I don’t wanna pay $1,500 a month in a motel and have to sell drugs just to make sure I have a roof over my head… Cause I don’t want my wife and me being in harm’s way… I’m not leaving my wife. My wife’s supposed to be somewhere way across the town where I have to catch a bus. What if I’m having a seizure or something, they’re gonna go get my wife… If my wife’s there, it won’t happen. But if she’s not there, I don’t know what’s gonna happen…”
- (wife of the above-quoted resident, married 14 years): “I just don’t wanna be in the streets no more. I’ve been in those shelters so many times, people give fights in women’s shelter and I can’t handle the anxiety, and my husband has heart problems and I worry about him and I worry about me. Every time I go to the shelter, it’s always nothing but fights, fights, fights, and I don’t like taking a shower there because they don’t clean it. And I just wanna get a house to call it my own home. Cuz I’m tired of this and I’m getting stressed out and I’m just frustrated… I just want to have a house right away before winter comes… I don’t wanna be stressing out in the middle of the night. Every night I cannot sleep, I think about where the heck we’re gonna go. I think about all of us… The people that has wheelchairs, the elderly people… it is not right to do that to us. We didn’t do nothing to them. They just gotta give us respect and give us a house, call our home.”
- “My case manager came to visit me today to gimme this notice that I have to be gone next Thursday to Catholic charities… They’re categorizing us and, and they’re splitting up families and they’re doing awful things to us that people don’t even know about. So we’re gonna let everybody know. I want my own key to my own apartment to go home. That’s all I want… I’ve had my voucher since April. And if my case manager was any kind of a case manager, she would have helped me get a place by now. I should have been one of the first people. I should have had a place since May or June at the latest… I’m sure she has a home to go home to… This is really sad because this is all last minute. They’re categorizing us like if we’re cattle, they wanna put the bad people over here and the good people over there and make sure and house all the good people, and do whatever they’re gonna do with them, but this is all last minute and they are rushing and trying to get us off the streets so they can say that they helped everybody they can. They are not helping anybody here. My case manager gave up on me since I got my voucher because she knew all the places I wanted to go, she has a list of them. And the first thing she asked me when I was handed this thing [the notice of premature eviction] is, are you gonna live in your car? You know, that’s not anybody’s business where I’m gonna go, but they’re not housing me so it shouldn’t be a problem for them. You know, I’m horribly, horribly disappointed with this program.”
- “We can’t go to a shelter. I cannot be separated away from my angel head. The reason why is because I have epilepsy and disability and she’s my caregiver. So that’s the main reason that I do not wanna be in the shelter… [in reference to pets not being allowed] nothing’s gonna happen with the dog, I will not let anything happen to that dog.”
- (wife of the above-quoted resident): “He’s legally disabled and it’s hard for him. He doesn’t know how to read or write, he doesn’t comprehend documents… So it’s so hard because I’m his legal [caregiver] and for us to be separated, I mean, we can’t. Today they just posted a note that on the sixth they reserved a bed at one of the shelters for him, and for me on the ninth of September. We’ve been married four years.”
- “All this is quite a surprise… Now I understand and appreciate that COVID was something that happened like this and we got housing and now we got the taste of life, of how to… enjoy a roof over us. And now you just wanna take it away from us so quickly. I would appreciate it if we had the time to get someplace… Step one is here, but step two, what’s it gonna be? Cuz nobody knows. It takes time to go out there and talk to people. It takes time to go see what you can find… It doesn’t happen like a snap of a finger. And so we’re being pushed into an anxiety… to what’s gonna happen next. We don’t know what’s gonna happen next… I’ll tell you when winter comes, everybody freezes. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care how many coats you got on. And then you can’t go no place cuz then you go to jail, or you get asked to move… Where are we supposed to go? Where are we supposed to live when we wanna go home? What are we gonna do, freeze out there? I wish everybody else would put yourselves in our shoes and walk a mile in it… Sit down and think what our cry is all about… At least extend some time for us to where we can take care of our anxiety and get our head straight, put our ducks in a row… Doesn’t have to be a long time, but we’re getting pushed out faster and faster. You know, the date’s coming to us. We’re not asking to sit there and go out tomorrow morning, cuz dang, what’s gonna happen then?.. It’s worse and worse the more you guys move up the time.”
- “I have anxiety right now and I can’t do it and I already told them I’m suicidal. So if they want to put me on the streets, I will burn money at the capital because it’s not right… They wanna make more people homeless. That’s all they wanna do… They’re profiling people now at this point… They’re judging everyone who can and cannot go certain places, and that’s messed up and for couples – to break a family up… You wouldn’t want your family broken up like this… This is horrible. This is a horrible way to live. They’re trying to tell me that there’s not a facility that will take animals either so I might have to get rid of my animals. No, that’s like telling me to get rid of your kid, you know, it’s bullshit… And I’m not doing that. I’ve had him ever since he was a puppy and he’s 14 years old, he’s old, so I’m not giving rid of my kid, and my best friend just passed away on Father’s Day and I took over taking care of his cat. So I’m fostering his cat. I’m taking care of his cat and he’s 15… I have medical issues. I have heart problems. I have a heart murmur… They’re doing nothing for us really, Coalition and the Salvation Army… It’s CCH… I’ve never been in a shelter. I’ve never been homeless ever until I moved here to Denver and the COVID started and I learned by the community, the homeless community, where to go, where to get help. It was 2019, bad snowstorm. My husband got laid off, 12 people got laid off at my husband’s job and the following year it was when we had the lockdown. So it was really hard for us. We’d never been homeless, ever, and this is our first time… And when I went down to Stout Street coalition, because of my health reasons, that’s the only one reason why I qualified for this program… I’m prone to catching COVID really easily…Coming into this program was a relief, but now it’s like, really? Are they just using us as a head count for them to get money off of this from the state?.. For the state to receive more money from the government… I’m on a list for a voucher with mental health, but I’ve never heard of anything with my number being up there yet. My case worker hasn’t told us and told me anything. But legal aid is the only one who’s been helping me out with my birth certificate, but that’s a wait too, it’s waiting for the government to issue me my birth certificate. It’s been two years now. I’m a military brat. And because the government didn’t open up until last year in September… They’re trying to find my documents and they can’t, and they’re gonna throw me back out in the streets and I’ve never been homeless… I worked in the medical field as a caregiver all my life. And now you wanna do this to me? We’re being thrown away. We’re all being thrown away like trash and it’s horrible. And I don’t know what we can do about this. I really don’t.”
- “They don’t treat us right here. They promise one and give us nothing. And we’re getting kicked out sooner than we’re supposed to be. And it’s gonna be wintertime by the time we’re kicked out. And where am I gonna go? You know, I don’t have any place to go. They want me to go to a shelter. I’m not going to a shelter… The hospital got me in here cuz my leg. And the hospital helped me get in here, but now I’m gonna be kicked out on the street again. And it’s gonna be wintertime. So timing is everything.”
After Quality Inn residents boldly made their demands for housing heard on Monday, the decision makers chose, just two days later, to post premature eviction notices on many of their doors and tell them to dissolve their families and have their single garbage bag ready to go to a shelter more than one week before the scheduled closing. This is cruel and calculated. We must support this most at-risk community of disabled and elderly poor and deliver the permanent supportive housing they need to survive.
Housing for Quality Residents NOW!
Housekeys Action Network Denver
Towards rights, dignity, housing…