• April 22nd, 2024
  • Monday, 08:37:48 AM

Tenant Unions, City Council Members Rally to Demand Livable Conditions 



Tenants living at The Clarkson apartments at 1756 Clarkson St in Denver, have organized a tenants union in response to serious conditions issues and unresponsive and disrespectful management at Boutique Wheelhouse. The Tenant Union, along with several elected officials and City Council candidates, will picket management offices and deliver a demand letter, threatening a class action lawsuit.


Clarkson Tenant Union members include Denver Metro Tenants Union, Shannon Hoffman for D10, Councilmember-Elect Sarah Parady, Shontel Lewis for D8, Council Member Candi CdeBaca’s staff rallied this week at Boutique Wheelhouse on 5th Avenue and Santa Fe Dr. in Denver.


“The elevator has never worked reliably. I often need to take the stairs,” says Clarkson Tenant Union member, Karuna Srikureja. “Then it broke down with me inside of it. I was trapped for hours with no response from management. Eventually the fire department broke me out.”


Like most tenants, Karuna has run out of patience. “We’ve all reached out, we’ve all gone through the proper channels to ask for help, and have invariably been met with dismissiveness and hostility.”


“Our issues began immediately upon moving in,” says Gordy Goetz, another tenant. “We didn’t have access to hot water for over a week. Dishwashers, laundry, even fixtures like sinks have been broken and breaking throughout the building while repairs take weeks or months.” Often those repairs are haphazard and incomplete.


The building’s fob system broke in December of 2021, and tenants found themselves locked out on one of the coldest nights in Denver’s history and that fob system remains broken to this day.  Management responded by asking tenants to use a broken garage entrance to get in and out of the building without the need for keys or fobs. The broken entrance has led to serious safety concerns and a rash of thefts.


“We stand in solidarity with renters in Denver and beyond, and want to share with you today what has happened to us because if we demand better together, we cannot be ignored.”
Karuna Srikureja, Clarkson Tenant Union


Sam Jiménez, a member of Denver Metro Tenants Union, initiated efforts to organize tenants, and was met with illegal retaliation. “Rather than addressing habitability and safety issues in the building, they instead chose to single me out and unlawfully slap me with a lease violation, a lease non-renewal letter, and legal intimidation and threats.  But I’m not scared of them. I know my rights as a renter.”


Shannon Hoffman, a renter and candidate in the runoff for City Council District 10, joined the rally. “In District 10, 70 percent of us rent our homes. I’m proud to be a collaborator with Denver Metro Tenants Union’s urgent fight for renters’ rights,” says Hoffman, who would be the only renter on City Council if she wins her June 6 runoff. Hoffman believes that renters deserve to be represented and championed by someone experiencing the issues that impact them.  “My rent went up $200 a month this year for my Capitol Hill studio apartment. My window is held together by duct tape, and my neighbors and I didn’t have water a couple weeks ago because our landlord didn’t pay the bill.”


Karuna, too, recognizes that what she is experiencing at The Clarkson is not unique and requires broader, systemic changes.  “We know we’re far from the only people in this city experiencing breaches of basic habitability. We know that in particular renters who are lower-income, disabled, people of color, and immigrants experience even more exploitation and neglect from landlords and property owners than I can even imagine. We stand in solidarity with renters in Denver and beyond, and want to share with you today what has happened to us because if we demand better together, we cannot be ignored.”