$1,600 per month can get you a studio apartment in Lower Downtown Denver.
It can also get you the same amount of space at the King’s Inn Motel on East Colfax Avenue in Aurora.
Last week the motel told its tenants they were doubling their weekly rent to pay for renovations. If they couldn’t pay the nearly $400 within three days they would get evicted.
“It went from two hundred to four hundred a week and I was like there's no way,” said resident Violanda Scorsconelli. “There’s no way that’s possible.”
Scorsconelli has called the King’s Inn home for five years. She says she regularly takes free items given away on Craigslist and tries resell them as a way to subsidize her $200 weekly rent. The new hike is out of reach for her family’s $170 weekly income.
“There are 200 people here,” she said. “We’re all literally going to be standing on the streets with nowhere to go.”
The Inn was sold at the beginning of month to new owners who told residents the rent hike would be used for renovations including air conditioning and flat-screen TV’s. When 9NEWS called to confirm the information the Inn declined comment.
“I have never seen anything of this magnitude ever in my career,” said Megan Vizina of the non-profit Colfax Community Network. “This is a place they found out of desperation so now the desperation is even more profound.”
Vizina has worked to find the Inn’s tenants more suitable living situations over her three years at CCN. She says news of the rent hike has put her staff in crisis mode as they’re now trying to help every tenant organize their finances and find new housing.
“They’re waking up every morning and have absolutely no idea what the day will hold,” she says.
Shelley McKittrick with Aurora’s Homelessness Program confirms three tenants, including Scorsconelli, have received eviction notices for failure to pay the $400 upfront. As a way to buoy others in similar situations the city has pledged $40,000 from its marijuana tax revenue. They hope to also use the money to subsidize down payments and first month’s rent in new living situations.
“We bust our butts every day to make sure we can keep [these motel rooms],” Scorsconelli said. “This is our last stop before we end up [on the streets] and you’re going to take that away from us?”
Scorsconelli says the Colfax Community Network has helped her find a new living situation at an apartment down the road. She will be paying $950/month and plans to move on Friday.
“Thank God for the community,” she said.
As for the Inn’s 197 other residents they wonder if they will lose the only thing keeping them off the streets.
Aurora's homeless program says it has been working with the King's Inn to try and give families more time to find alternate situations.