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Seniors in mobile home park get skyrocketing water bills, lawmakers investigating

Posted: 11:24 PM, Nov 01, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-02 01:25:00-04
Ginger Derrick is watching every drop of water, worried about skyrocking water bills

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FEDERAL HEIGHTS, Colo. -- At 77 years old, Ginger Derrick did not think she would have to go back to work, just to pay the skyrocketing lot rent and utility bills from her mobile home park.

But now, she is working an overnight shift for UPS, just to make ends meet, after her recent water bill was seven times higher than the same billing period last year.

"It went from $6 on November 1st of 2018 to $42 this year with no explanation," she said, showing the bills from her mobile home park she carefully files away.

Contact7 first heard about issues with lot rent increasing at Holiday Hills mobile home park in Federal Heights this summer, when a large group of seniors came together to talk about their struggles to make ends me.

Meanwhile, new fees for "usage", "meter" and "efficiency" have also been added in the last year.

For some people, including 89-year-old Sherry Broderick, it has meant tough choices. She was hit with a $91 water bill in August (compared to an $18 bill in August of 2018.)

"What did it mean to me? That was part of my groceries for the rest of the month," said Broderick, who is now going to a food bank to supplement her groceries. "It was either pay the rent or buy groceries."

In a statement from the park's owners, Equity Lifestyle Properties, a spokeswoman said they are aware of "a particular resident" and are "working to address the matter."

The statement said: "Actions taken include documenting daily meter readings for the home to track usage and having our maintenance technician visit the home to look for plumbing leaks and running toilets. Next, we will be scheduling a licensed plumber to conduct an additional courtesy check for leaks."

However, Rep. Kyle Mullica, D-Northglenn, said this issue is far larger than one resident or even one mobile home park.

"There's no transparency, and we are trying to figure out how this is happening," said Mullica, who said town halls lately are filled with complaints from people concerned about arbitrary utility billing by mobile home parks, which may not be tied to how much the parks are charged by the city-owned utilities. "Why are my constituents being gouged on a public utility? And no one has been able to really give me that answer."

He said lawmakers are working on proposals for the next legislative session to beef up Colorado's Mobile Home Park Act, including requiring more transparency in utility billing and meter audits to make sure large companies that own mobile home parks aren't profiting from the most vulnerable.

Meanwhile, Derrick said she is working five nights a week to make ends meet and hoping someone will stop the skyrocketing utilities and lot rent that may force her out of her home.

"They want to force us out, so we have to leave them the homes for a low price, and they can sell them for more," she said. "I just pray a lot. I just think things will change."