In Littleton, 12 women face an uncertain future. The city has decided it no longer wants to be in the housing business over a property, Geneva Village, that houses a group of low-income women ranging between the ages of 64 and 91.
This is being done in the name of the greater good.
Is it really for the greater good that a city is looking at wiping out the only secure thing these women have? They all are on fixed incomes. Only half of them own a vehicle, which is their main asset. Few of them own or can use a computer.
In all fairness, it’s easy to see where the city is coming from. After all, since the City of Littleton took ownership of the property in 1975, it appears no one on the administrative side managed it.
By that, I mean rent levels. Through no fault of their own, these women are paying about $368 a month in rent. A heck of a deal, especially in today’s out-of-whack housing market. However, it is not their fault that the city did not bother to increase rent prices over the last four decades.
In the coming days, the Littleton City Council will be deciding on how they want to proceed with Geneva Village. But I hope it’s a decision they go into knowing that sometimes the greater good should not be at the expense of a few innocent women who have done nothing wrong other than living in a facility for older, low-income adults.
A bright light in this process is Brittany Katalenas, a social worker with B-Konnected. Hired by the city to provide demographics and a clear picture of the residents of Geneva Village, Katalenas took it a step further. During an August work session with the city council when she presented her findings, it was clear that Katalenas truly cares about what happens to these women.
She has gone beyond the call of duty. While not part of her contract with the city, Katalenas worked to sign eight of the 12 women up for Section 8 housing. Five of them were approved.
To the council members, this may seem like a way to make an easier decision to kick these women out. However, Katalenas stressed to them — even with a housing voucher — there is no housing in Littleton or the Denver metro area that will have similar pricing to the $368 a month.
Living on a fixed income, each of these women makes about $1,500 a month. Anyone who knows our housing market knows that won’t even cover a month’s rent. They still have to pay for medical bills and buy food and necessities.
Reporter Nina Joss, who covers Littleton and Arapahoe County, recently did an in-depth story on the state’s voucher system. She described one man’s efforts over several years to get his grandson, who has a housing voucher, into the metro area to live near him.
It’s not just the price of rent that creates obstacles. In this case, many apartment complexes do not want to deal with the government and reject a voucher altogether.
To think that a voucher for these 12 women will be a golden ticket is delusional, as in many cases in our state, the voucher is more about giving cruel hope than providing true solutions.
As the wage gap in our country continues to grow — pushing the residents out in the name of the “greater good” just doesn’t ring true to me. We are only as strong as our weakest link and pushing those weak links aside and out does not mean they disappear.
Thelma Grimes is the south metro editor for Colorado Community Media.