Snow piled in only backdoor accessible parking spot at senior home

LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- Seniors living in Creekside West have been patiently waiting for weeks for a five-foot tall pile of snow to melt.

It's blocking the only accessible parking space and entrance into the back of their building.

"It has been this way since December, the big snow we got in December," said one resident who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation. "I've had people come over to visit me, and they haven't been able to get out of their car because if they use a wheelchair, there is no place for them to lower a ramp and get out and park."

According to its website, the apartment complex offers affordable apartment to adults 62 and over, and residents say many have disabilities.

"Unfortunately, I wasn't terribly surprised, but I was appalled. There's no excuse for that," said Julie Reiskin, the executive director of the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, after viewing the snow-covered parking space.

She said the managers are breaking federal fair housing laws.

"If someone says they didn't know, I find that a little hard to believe if you're managing a building for this population, but OK. You know now, so fix it," said Reiskin.

Sbarina Pierre-Louis, Deputy Executive Director for Metro West Housing Solutions, which manages the complex, said they have had no complaints about the parking space.

"We were not notified of this," said Pierre-Louis. "If it was an issue, we would be happy to give them a temporary visitor's spot up front until it was resolved."

Pierre-Louis said 80 percent of residents have underground parking, which includes eight accessible spaces. 

"There are two more in the front of the building, and six in the back," she said. "So, that is not the only space."

Still, residents insisted, the space is the only one that serves the back of the Creekside West building.

"There's a reason why accessible spaces are supposed to be closest to the door. Because many, not all, but many of the people that need them can't go very far," said Reiskin. "Even if it's not the only accessible space, you should find somewhere to put snow that isn't any accessible parking space."

Reiskin said it is important for people who feel they are not being treated fairly to contact the Colorado Civil Rights Division and a nonprofit advocacy group, such as the Colorado Cross-Disability Coaliltion, the Denver Metro Fair House Center or Disability Law Colorado.

Pierre-Louis said the snow should not have been placed in that space and promised it would be removed by Tuesday.

"We are also going to have a talk with our contractor and make sure he finds another place to put the snow," she said, saying it would not happen again.

She also disputed allegations of retaliation against complaints, which would also be illegal under federal law.

"It's false information. Sixty percent of our residents have lived here since the building opened in 2003," she said. "We care about the property and our residents."

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