Sunday, December 5, 2021

The fight to save Denver Meadows: New documentary sheds light on America’s affordable housing crisis

When Luz Galicia became a post-divorce single mother, the only way she had to pay for her daughter’s college tuition was to move out of their large home into a trailer at Denver Meadows Mobile Home Park in Aurora.

“A mobile home is not a second-class home,” says Galicia in a new documentary, “A Descent Home.” “A mobile home is my home. It is where we put our energy, our family, our history, our everyday memories.”

if you go

“A Descent Home,” premieres Saturday, November 6 at the Denver Film Festival at 4 p.m. at the Sea Film Center, 2510 E. Colfax Avenue and re-screening on Sunday, November 7th at 2:30 p.m. AMC 9 + CO 10. , 826 Albion St., and at 4:15 p.m. on Thursday, November 11 c. Tickets can be purchased at Denverfilm.org.

“A Decent Home,” directed by Sarah Terry and premiering at the Denver Film Festival this weekend, tells the story of mobile home parks as America’s last bastion of unsubsidized affordable housing. The documentary, spanning more than six years, looks at our nation’s affordable housing crisis through the lens of Denver Meadows residents as they fight to keep their parks from being sold to developers – community, economic stability and the American dream. The fight to preserve they know it.

“Think what home is,” Terry said in an interview on Wednesday. “And think about whether it’s a basic human right or is it a commodity. What world do you want to live in?”

related: See the Lineup for This Year’s Denver Film Fest, Including “Spencer” on Opening Night

The documentary first learned of the move into the mobile home sector of big money players from an article in The Guardian six years ago. She was angry.

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“Mobile home parks are the canary in the coal mine,” Terry said.

The documentary features mobile home parks in Silicon Valley and next to Google’s headquarters in Iowa and New Hampshire, but the film’s main throughline is Denver Meadows.

Mobile Home Park, located between Interstate 225 and the Anschutz medical complex, was home to 100 families like Galicia, whose lives flourished when the park’s owner, Sean Lustigman, decided to sell the park and move residents out.

Mobile homes represent a unique piece of American home ownership because most people own the trailer they live in – but not the land on which their trailer sits. It is rented to them by a landowner, who holds all the cards for the future of the park or the rent for those little patches of grass.

Lustigman’s decision led these mobile homeowners on a multi-year odyssey to city council meetings and public hearings, urging Aurora leaders to avoid turning their parks into hotels or apartments.

These homeowners included people like Hilda Lopez and Lalo Martinez, who lived in their own cars and hotels before founding Denver Meadows. and Petra Bennett, who raised her family and built a lovely backyard sanctuary over the 18 years she lived in the park.

“It’s everyone’s dream to move forward and have a place they can call their own,” she says in the film.

a decent house

Petra Bennett embraces her grandson in a scene from A Descent Home, a feature-length documentary about mobile homes and the wealth gap. Bennett had lived at the park for 18 years; He lost his home during a three-year unsuccessful fight by residents to keep the park closed.

The Denver Meadows fight was played out in public for years as Aurora City leaders decided whether to accept requests to redecorate the park’s land for redevelopment.

The documentary also follows Progressive City Council candidates Alison Combs, Juan Marcano and Brian Lindstrom during their run for office. The runes portray a city that is battling itself to capture the new money and economic growth provided by development while preserving a place to live for the working class of Aurora.

The Denver Meadows saga also served as a catalyst for Colorado lawmakers to overhaul the state’s Antique Mobile Home Parks Act. New laws passed between 2019 and 2021 gave increased protections for mobile homeowners, giving them better opportunities to buy their own parks when they go up for sale, along with a new complaints system as well as costly attorney fees. for the purpose of arbitrating disputes without

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