TRENDS Diary: Landlord Demonstrates Solidarity with Tenants

James and Michelle from Bridge House’s Community Table Kitchen, wait to distribute meals at Lumine on 28th.

TRENDS Diary, a project of the Community Foundation of Boulder County, is a place for Boulder County residents of all ages to share personal experiences that relate to a pressing community need. The focus, for now, is on our shared need to connect and solve problems, despite the increased isolation we’re all experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Dear TRENDS Diary,

I’m a developer of affordable housing, and I own a handful of affordable rental properties in town. Because of the income limits on these units, the tenants are nearly all in jobs that have been impacted by COVID-19 — restaurant workers, massage therapists, etc. None of these people are working.

As the landlord, we sent out a letter letting them know that if they were going to struggle to pay rent, let us know and we’ll work with you. We want you to stay. I’ve been reading so much about what sort of dire straits our tenants are going to be in with having to figure out rent, groceries, cash to live on. And I’ve been hearing from our tenants who might be able to pay rent but then were worried about money for food.

I’m also on the board of Bridge House, which employs formerly unhoused people at Community Table Kitchen. They are doing a lot of take-and-bake meals, including for health care workers as part of Feeding the Frontlines Boulder. I knew I could buy enough meals — which each feed four to five people — for every one of the units at one of my properties.

Thistle is helping me figure out a way to safely deliver them. If it goes well, I’ll do it again next month.

I thought it would be something nice for me as the owner to do so the tenants don’t think we’re just there to collect rent. We’re concerned; I’m concerned about people making it through this and being here as a community after it’s all over.

We’re all in it together now.

– Andy Allison, as told to Shay Castle