County officials preparing to help seniors displaced by fire

Senior services office gearing up if residents evicted from Windermere

Posted 11/28/18

County human services officials are gearing up to assist residents displaced by the Nov. 17 Windermere apartment fire, which left more than 100 seniors locked out of their homes while they await word …

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County officials preparing to help seniors displaced by fire

Senior services office gearing up if residents evicted from Windermere

Posted

County human services officials are gearing up to assist residents displaced by the Nov. 17 Windermere apartment fire, which left more than 100 seniors locked out of their homes while they await word on when or if they'll be able to get back in.

Residents are aware that a 2016 fire in the complex's other tower resulted in the mass eviction of all the tower's residents, said Linda Haley, manager of Arapahoe County's Senior Resources Division.

Her office was instrumental in finding scores of apartments for residents displaced by the last fire, and may have to do so again, Haley said.

The news that the recent fire caused a major spill of asbestos was not good, Haley said.

“We're hoping for the best and planning for the worst,” Haley said.

The problem is that there aren't nearly enough suitable apartments in Littleton to absorb all the tower's residents if they're all evicted, Haley said — the Windermere offered low-cost rent, security, a community of fellow senior residents, and access for the disabled.

“There are maybe a dozen apartments in Littleton that match that description,” Haley said. More than a hundred might be needed, and residents might find themselves scattered across the Denver metro area.

Haley said she doesn't yet have a count of how many seniors are looking for new housing, because management has provided little information on the building's condition and most residents would like to return.

“At this point, people still believe they're going back,” Haley said. “Those on the first floor (where the fire started) know they're not going back, though. We're trying to position ourselves to respond as best we can.”

Haley said her office has been responding to numerous requests for assistance, much of it in dealing with insurance companies.

“These residents are traumatized, first off,” Haley said. “They can't get their policies out of their apartments. Lots of them don't even have their IDs, so they can't even get their mail from the post office.”

Thankfully, Haley said, the vast majority of residents have renters' insurance this time around, unlike the last fire where only a few did.

Residents face a host of other issues, Haley said.

“Everyone left something behind,” she said. “Oxygen concentrators, hearing aids, clothing. Most of these people don't have a high monthly income. They paid November rent and utilities, and spent money on food. But that food is gone.”

Haley said she is re-assembling the team of local officials, agencies and nonprofits that came together to help seniors displaced by the 2016 fire.

“We are working as hard as we can to prepare to meet these folks' needs,” Haley said. “But we can't do it alone. If we get the worst news, it's going to take a village.”

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