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Increasing rent costs in Colorado Springs creating problem for seniors on fixed income

There have been several stories over the years of increasing rent prices in Colorado Springs, but we’re taking a closer look at the impact that’s having on people with fixed incomes. It’s leading to elderly or disabled residents being forced out of their homes.

Mary Riley, who has lived in Colorado Springs her entire life, is one of those impacted.

“This is home, it’s been my home,” Riley says.

For the past eight years, she has lived in a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment on the east side of the city. It may not be much but it’s where she planned on spending the rest of her life. Riley says, “Home sweet home, this is where I was going to die at.”

Riley has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and she’s on oxygen 24/7. Unable to work, she relies on disability and for eight years it’s covered the cost of her rent.

“[Rent was] $350 when we moved here so yeah it was affordable,” Riley says.

Now, her rent has nearly tripled and she says her monthly check won’t cover it.

“I’m afraid of being homeless, being put out on the street,” Riley says. And with rents on the rise across Colorado Springs, Riley says she has nowhere else to go except maybe her car, “We have a car, yeah, we can live in it but how am I going to breathe? I have to have my oxygen.”

We also spoke with Mary Stegner, the executive director at Partners in Housing located in Colorado Springs. Their organization helps families living on low incomes find housing.

Stegner says they receive 800 applications from households every year. She has also been seeing a big impact on the elderly community as well. “Income is just not quite enough to make those advanced rent payments that we are charging now in the community,” Stegner says, “the economy is supporting those rent payments except for folks on disability.”

While the city is rushing to approve more affordable housing projects, the need far outweighs the current construction. Leaving people like Riley to pray for a solution. “I believe in miracles, I don’t give up,” Riley says.

Riley also tells us she is on the waitlist for affordable housing but with so many people applying, she doesn’t know if she will get a call back in time.

KRDO Only 2019