Mountain Village is waiving February rent for Village Court Apartments (VCA) residents who request it in taking advantage of the state’s Department of Local Affairs program that offers rent reimbursement.
“Due to the ongoing financial impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on residents, Mountain Village Town Council approved a plan (Thursday night) to waive February rent for any resident who requests it,” according to a letter sent to all VCA residents Friday from property manager Luke Adamson and Michelle Haynes, the town’s director of planning and developments services. “We will do so by taking advantage of available state funding to cover your February rent. The State of Colorado has a program available through the Department of Local Affairs and our staff is currently working to coordinate the best way to apply for those funds on behalf of tenants to cover February’s rent while making it as easy as possible for our tenants.”
During Thursday night’s special council meeting, officials talked about the process and Adamson said his office will assist in any way needed. The forms are available in both English and Spanish, as the town plans to send them out this week.
“The week of January 25, we will distribute more information and the forms we will need tenants to sign (available in both English and Spanish) to be due the following week,” the letter stated. “Please keep an eye out for emails from Luke or letters posted on your door, and be ready to fill out the forms and turn them back into the office if you would like your rent waived.”
Council discussed several options, including continuing the previously available hardship applications, even though there has only been one recent application for the program.
“We conducted a short survey amongst our residents and about half of our residents responded. According to the results, we found that roughly 50 percent, two-thirds, of our residents were fairly severely impacted financially by the pandemic,” Adamson shared during the meeting. “So far, all the rents have been paid to date so we have not had to pursue any financial-related evictions since the pandemic started. We did have 11 hardship applications that we received at the beginning, but those have all been paid off now, and we have just recently received only one more.
“I think people tend to steer away from our hardship applications specifically because it is more of a payment plan that allows them to defer half a month’s rent over a six-month period.”
VCA resident Piper Miller shared her thoughts during the meeting’s public comment section in reading aloud an email she sent to the town.
“I just hope that Mountain Village will take the same attitude towards helping their working class residents that Telluride did when they waived rent in January. Telluride Town Council seemed to agree that they wanted to help without making people jump through hoops to prove need. I’m confident that we are all struggling and in need right now, to varying degrees, maybe, but we are not collectively as strong or well off as we were before COVID,” she said. “I was fortunate enough not to lose work due to COVID, but my finances have absolutely have taken a hit.”
She paused and seemed to fight back tears before continuing, “I am a single mother of a high school student with special needs. The onset of homeschooling in conjunction with navigating working from home has taken a huge toll on our mental health. I have been struggling to pay my rent due to added health care costs for a few months, and it’s only added to the stress of this already difficult time. Having a month of rent waived would enable me to get back on top of my finances and be a great relief to my stress load. I have lived here for three years and have a job that serves this community. I need help and would be greatly helped by waiving a month of rent.”
The town also waived April’s rent at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which totals $190,000. The most recent rent relief will initially be covered by the town’s reserve housing fund. Officials have continuously discussed and offered financials assistance to town residents and businesses throughout the pandemic. For more information, click on the COVID-19 page on homepage of the town’s website, townofmountainvillage.com.
“I just wanted to say that if there is any government program that we can access, we should be doing that. If we need to adjust as we go along, we will,” council member Peter Duprey said.
“The Town of Mountain Village is extremely committed to helping our residents navigate the pandemic’s financial impacts, and we will continue to monitor other available funding moving forward. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns,” the letter further read.