DENVER - A privately-owned apartment complex that receives funding from the federal government is drawing criticism for a soon-to-be implemented policy that prohibits new residents from having guns.
The property manager says it's about safety, but gun rights advocates say the policy is against the law.
An anonymous employee of Allied Jewish Senior Housing in Denver sent 9Wants to Know a newstip, concerned that the new gun policy will violate the rights of future residents.
As soon as the new policy takes effect, any legal gun owner who applies to live at Allied Jewish will be told they must disarm or look elsewhere.
If a new resident moves-in and is caught with a gun, they can be evicted, even if they have a weapons permit.
Hundreds of low income seniors live in the Allied Jewish apartments.
Ondalee Kline, a resident and president of the safety committee, attended a recent meeting between residents and managers to talk about guns.
"We had many concerns. Our residents felt safer, some of them, with guns. But we also had a concern for residents as they age," Kline said.
Most of the people living in the complex are in their 80s.
Executive director Michael Klein says some residents with memory problems could mistake a staff member for an intruder.
"We, as staff, need to go into their apartments on a regular basis," Klein said. "A resident, unknowing, mistakenly would get up and shoot someone and it would be tragic."
That has never happened at Allied Jewish Apartments, but the fear of what could happen prompted the policy change.
The policy prohibits staff from carrying guns and prohibits guns in any public spaces on the property.
The policy also allows current residents who own guns to keep their firearms, but new residents will not be allowed to have or acquire guns.
"I would say that we are a private property and our goal is to make sure we are safe and secure for the people that live here," said Klein, when asked if the policy violates the rights of new residents.
Gun rights attorney Robert Wareham, founder and CEO of The Law Center P.C. in Highlands Ranch, says the apartment's policy violates federal and state law.
"It's just simply unconstitutional," Wareham said. "You are entitled to carry or posses a firearm in defense if your home. This is an example of people trying to impose their social norms on other people through dictating policy."
Wareham says that's illegal, though Allied Jewish says its legal counsel approved the policy. Allied Jewish is privately owned, but receives public money from the US Dept. of Housing & Urban Development.
"I think these folks are asking for some litigation," Wareham said.
Wareham represented retired US Marine Art Dorsch in August when he was told by his apartment manager to disarm or move-out of public housing in Castle Rock, owned by the Douglas County Housing Partnership.
After our story, Douglas County housing officials lifted his apartment's "no gun" policy.
HUD spokesperson Charlene R. Guzman sent 9Wants to Know the following statement:
Allied Jewish Senior Housing is a privately owned and operated apartment complex. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development does provide rental subsidy which allows residents to pay 30% of their adjusted income toward rent. While the property owner is required to use our HUD model lease to outline the basic terms of tenancy, the owner also has the authority to develop and apply specific 'house rules' which identify allowable and prohibited activities in housing units and common areas. These rules provide a structure for treating tenants equitably and for making sure that tenants treat each other with consideration. House rules are also beneficial in keeping the properties safe and clean and making them more appealing and livable for the tenants. The decision about whether to develop house rules for a property rests solely with the owner, and HUD or the Contract Administrator's review or approval is not required.
Allied Jewish managers believe they have a legal right to ban guns.
Ondalee Kline says most residents welcome the no gun policy.
"You have a right to live where you want," she said. "You can go to another apartment complex that allows [guns]."