Dozens Could Be Kicked Out Of Apartments By Christmas

No Heat, No Hot Water Chronic Problem

During the coldest part of the winter, residents at 1145 Sherman St. in Denver had no hot water and no heat.

Now, four days before Christmas, they could also be kicked out of their homes.

A notice on the front door reads: "Vacate: By December 21"

Since Dec. 3, city inspectors have been trying to instill a sense of urgency into the owner and manager of the Baron Apartments, inside a Capitol Hill building with the title 'The Palisade' on the front.

"Hell, no, it ain't fair. I need my money back or somethin', man. This has got to stop," said one tenant who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation by management. "Hell for the last couple of weeks. We had no heat. We ain't never had no heat. The hot water wasn't workin'."

City inspectors ordered managers to provide space heaters to the estimated 36 occupied units on Dec. 7.

Denver hit a brutal cold snap that week, with low temperatures at -3 degrees Dec. 8, -17 degrees Dec. 9 and -1 Dec. 10, according to the national Weather Service in Boulder.

"The owner, bless his soul, he'd rather be in Mexico than fix the problems here," said resident Susan Kohler, who's moving out. "A lot of us have bad credit. A lot of us don't have a place to go. But uh, I can't take it no more."

Richard Zevalking, the owner of the business, is "out of the country" according to a man reached at Zevalking's fence business.

But Zevalking slammed the door on TheDenverChannel back in early October, after residents called us to complain about a complete water shutoff.

When asked how she's been showering lately, Kohler said, "We don't. We have to heat the water up in pots to do our dishes."

TheDenverChannel found two apartment residents who were using natural gas stoves to both boil water and provide heat.

"It's my understanding based on the member of our office who's investigating that they're moving as fast as they can," said Bob McDonald, director of Public Health Inspections for the City of Denver about apartment managers. "We've not had to displace this many people from a building of this size for this type of problem. If that did have to happen, we would work with the department of Human Services to find an alternative location for the tenants. We're not going to displace them into something that's worse."

Despite finding no heat and or no hot water in the building nine times since April, 2004, McDonald said the problem was "cause for concern" and he might ask the owner to replace the boiler in the building.

"There will be some time necessary to install that part. But it's very unlikely that we'll have to displace those tenants based on what I'm hearing at this time," McDonald said.

When asked what the problem was, managers told TheDenverChannel several stories.

One tried to show us the water was hot.

But after several seconds, Dolores admitted, "It's barely even warm because of the fact that it's ... cold. Cold pipes."

Another man who identified himself only as "Tom" said he'd ordered a new water heater Wednesday, which Dolores had said he'd be delivering to the apartment building Wednesday night.

A spokeswoman for Denver Human Services said they would find room for any displaced residents.

"I'm confident that that won't be necessary," McDonald said, adding an inspector would issue a court summons for the manager of the building Thursday for three violations of city code, each of which could bring a $999 fine and or one year in jail with a conviction.