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DU Law sues to block holiday evictions

Dozens of young families and senior citizens living in a Fort Morgan mobile home park face eviction just days before the holidays. University of Denver Sturm College of Law student lawyers today filed court documents seeking to block the proposed mobile home park closure and force park operators to provide clean, safe drinking water.

The students are part of Denver Law’s Environmental Law Clinic, working under the guidance of Professor Michael Harris. Their motion – filed in District Court in Larimer County on Nov. 20 – is aimed at holding up a complicated foreclosure, the result of owners who have left residents to live in conditions described as “deplorable” for at least the past two years. Rather than fixing the park’s problem, including unsafe drinking water, the park owners are trying to terminate leases and force the families off the park.

The situation involves more than 30 residents of the Wayward Wind Mobile Home Park, located in Fort Morgan along I-76.  For at least the past two years, water at the park has been unsafe to drink or cook with, and residents have had to obtain water from a nearby service station. Residents have reported becoming ill simply from bathing in the water, which officials confirm is tainted with uranium, nitrate and other contaminants.

After repeated violations and complaints, and multiple changes in management, the park has slipped into foreclosure and residents are being ordered off the land. The result is extreme hardship for families and seniors who own their own mobile homes, but cannot afford to move them or find parks in the region to relocate. Attorneys argue the residents not only face logistical hardships through no fault of their own, they risk losing everything they have invested in their homes.

“For well over two years now, the residents of this park have been unable to drink or cook with the water coming out of their own tap. Instead of complying with the law, the defendants, and now the receiver, have chosen to forego fixing the problem and instead to evict these people,” state court documents filed by the student lawyers. “This is not only a misuse of the Colorado Mobile Home Park Act, but it is also inhumane. Not only are these evictions to occur during the holiday season, the residents have little means to move. Many have invested their hard-earned savings into purchasing and improving their mobile homes.”

Prior to filing a formal motion to intervene in the looming foreclosure, student lawyers Jennifer Barnes, Jonathan Goldstein, Jessica Morales and Stefanie Pupkiewicz sent a letter to park owners Andrew Klein and Otis Moore III of Wayward Wind Mobile Home Park, which operates out of a Greenwood Village office, and the receiver, Michael Honc, of Littleton-based Colorado Commercial Real Estate Professionals. The letter cites violations of federal and state drinking water regulations and violations of the Colorado Mobile Home Park Act.

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