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Westminster Residents Host "People's Assembly" for Housing Concerns

Residents of Westminster, Colo., are asking the city to consider creating an affordable-housing trust fund to help struggling families stay in their homes. (Getty Images)
Residents of Westminster, Colo., are asking the city to consider creating an affordable-housing trust fund to help struggling families stay in their homes. (Getty Images)
September 29, 2017

WESTMINSTER, Co. – We Organize Westminster, or WOW, has a public assembly Saturday to address what the group is calling a housing and renters' rights crisis in the Denver suburb.

In the five years, Inez Marquez has lived at the Copperwood Apartments, she says the rent for the one-bedroom unit she shares with her children has doubled, and the bill often includes other, unexplained charges. She hopes the city will adopt an affordable-housing platform developed by residents, which includes a "Renters Bill of Rights."

"Because we are working on policies here in Westminster to better our community, we all need to get together and work something out," she says.

The group wants the city to require landlords to present itemized receipts, provide translated leases, and connect tenants to free legal advice through volunteers at local bar associations.

Councilwoman Emma Pinter has said she supports parts of the WOW platform and is set to speak at the assembly. Westminster Mayor Herb Atchison has promised to attend but hasn't taken a stand on the recommendations.

Marquez says she and other renters' advocates spent the past year researching successful affordable-housing policies at work in other cities, including the idea of creating an affordable-housing trust fund.

"To help with rent if somebody can't pay rent for that month, or they need funding to help get an apartment or a house," she adds. "You know, just little resources like that, that will help a family to stay in their home."

Marquez notes WOW's efforts are already paying off. After confronting the City Council in June, Westminster has added inspectors, recommended increases in rental and food-assistance budgets, and prioritized 25 percent of the new downtown development for affordable housing. Saturday's 2 P.M. event is set to take place at the Advent Lutheran Church.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO