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With housing for our workforce and senior housing in Chaffee County already in crisis mode, the situation appears to have gotten worse this week. Ark Valley Voice has learned that the new owner of The Meadows In Buena Vista, located at 502 S. San Juan Ave, Buena Vista has taken steps that some are referencing as amounting to a mass eviction of the apartment complex.

The owner has doubled, and in some cases tripled, the rents in the dozen rental units, where residents had been paying $600 to $800/month. The news impacts 17 residents of the 12-apartment complex.

“I am reaching out to ask for your support for residents in Buena Vista being affected by a mass eviction,” read a message from Chaffee Housing Authority Director Becky Gray to her counterparts in Chaffee County Public Health, the Department of Human Services, and Solvista Health. “The Meadows apartment complex in BV changed ownership, and the new owners have notified all twelve of the households living there that their rents are increasing dramatically; some are doubling, some are tripling.”

An online ad for The Meadows in Buena Vista appears to confirm this rent increase, listing apartments in this manner:

“#106 $1,200/month Rented Beds 2 Baths 1 Apartment #106 is a downstairs end-unit at The Meadows.” But when you click on their link, the site comes up blank, which means it might already have been rented, possibly not by the current resident.

Gray has confirmed that the residents are a mix of our local workforce, as well as seniors, some with disabilities and others with health concerns, who are living on very fixed incomes. It appears that all were on month-to-month rental agreements and that the owner is within legal rights to raise rents.

But that does not make this any easier to absorb, especially heading into winter and the holidays. According to Gray, “Emotions are high, feelings of desperation are real, and personal financial resources are limited.”

“My understanding is they were notified at the end of October – or 30 days to be out. They were all on a month-to-month [basis] so it is a standard 60 days lead,” said Gray. “It doesn’t make them a good neighbor. Colorado law says you can’t raise rent raised more than once in a 12-month period and some of these people had already had a rent increase before this latest announcement, so I’m passing that to Colorado Legal Services”.

The new owner G Light Equity LLC  of Colorado Springs, run by Gavin Light, closed on their purchase from The Meadows in Buena Vista LLC on October 3, 2022. The Chaffee County Assessor’s Office records the following:

10/03/2022 $2,300,000 Special Warranty Deed 483667 Improved MEADOWS IN BUENA VISTA LLC THE G LIGHT EQUITY LLC
10/03/2022 $0 Quit Claim 483668 Improved MEADOWS IN BV LLC to G LIGHT EQUITY LLC WATER RIGHTS
05/01/2017 $900,000 Special Warranty Deed 433898 Improved SAN JUAN MEADOWS LLC MEADOWS IN BUENA VISTA LLC THE

The previous owner of The Meadows in Buena Vista LLC (registered agent Joseph Greiner and member Susan Greiner), with a mailing address on Yale Ave. in Buena Vista) had owned it since May 2017, paying $900,000 for the apartment complex. Five years later, their LLC sold the property for $2,300,000 representing a 155.5 percent return on investment; in anyone’s estimation a tidy sum.

Ark Valley Voice has left messages with the new owner who is instituting the substantial rent increases, asking them to confirm when the notification was done, how long residents have been given, and how soon their security deposits might be returned, etc., but so far there has been no comment.

The Chaffee Office of Housing is organizing a county resource meeting in the next few days to help residents losing their homes to assist and assess what they may need, which may include:

  • Financial support to subsidize rents.
  • Assistance in moving furniture and personal items (one set of stairs leads to six apartments); lifting, carrying and truck/trailers for hauling.
  • Emotional support to navigate this dramatic life event;
  • Support and advocacy for those with serious health conditions (i.e., pending surgery, pending chemotherapy, limited mobility, etc.);
  • Support and advocacy for finding another place to live in the community at these rent levels (i.e., $600 – 800 per month);
  • Assistance applying for permanently affordable housing options such as Collegiate Commons, Sunrise Manor, and/or Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers.

Tuesday evening, Gray plans to speak to the Buena Vista Trustees. “We have volunteers through Ark Valley Helping Hands to help with the physical act of moving, and we’re going to ask if any BV residents can rent at affordable rates below $1,000. We’ll ask the town to look for any funding to subsidize the rent for a period of time. Some are facing serious medical conditions. You can’t have surgery on the 15th and be out by the 31st.”

“I’ve been aware [of this] for five or six days said Buena Vista Planning Director Joseph Teipel. “The simple answer is we don’t have any existing resources set up to bring to this. But I understand that Becky Gray will give public comment tonight and will be doing a specific ask. The trustees would have to be the ones to authorize it … let the community know the Office of Housing is working within the parameters it has. The sad fact is that it is not illegal to do this even if it is not ethical. There is no other legal resource we could bring to bear on this.”

Ark Valley Voice has confirmed that the actual property, which has a Buena Vista street address, is not in town; it sits on county land. As the quit claim deed for water rights revealed, it has its own well and septic systems.

The situation points up a three-pronged reality that this community cannot ignore. It shows how fast the housing situation has changed, second — how vulnerable it has left people, and third that the marketplace is simply not providing market solutions.

“This is the fallout. The housing marketplace is not going to solve this,” said Gray. “This is an ongoing situation. We are seeing a striking increase in first-time homeless households. They aren’t doing anything wrong … they are victims of  the marketplace realities.”

Featured image: The Meadows In Buena Vista has been sold and the new owners have hiked up rents considerably. AVV file photo.