PHOTOS BY NICOLE JORGENSON
An off-campus student residence at 724 Nevada Avenue was condemned and declared unfit for human life this past week, according to police and resident accounts.
A police report noted the presence of “a 40-gallon trash can in the basement full of raw sewage… leaking pipes, whose water ran over exposed wires in the basement,… [and] mold growing throughout the basement and the bathrooms in the house.”
To fix the mold problems in the bathroom, police said the landlord “had painted over the black mold, but it came through the paint.”
The six student residents there – seniors Matt Potter, Lizby Dingus, Katie Fellows, Erica Sarro, Gabriel Dover, and Matt Lopez – have been forced to move elsewhere and now are only allowed to enter the house during daylight hours.
On Saturday, sleeping in the house was deemed illegal.
The home was initially examined by a plumber last Wednesday after the residents decided that the extent of the issues in the house warranted professional attention. The plumber did not repair much, though.
The residents said the plumber went into the basement, observed the issues, and then returned, citing liability reasons as why he could not repair plumbing faults in the basement, the residents said.
“Our appliances, everything, dumped water straight into the basement,” said former resident Gabe Dover. “The plumber told us not to use anything, because he wasn’t sure if it was sanitary to be used.”
The former inhabitants of the house even had to go to their neighbors for fresh water and to use the bathroom.
On Thursday, Campus Resource Officer Jason Newton examined the house, and on Friday, it was Colorado Springs’ Department of Code Enforcement’s turn.
By Saturday morning, the neon yellow condemnation signs were already affixed to all doors on the house.
The house at 724 Nevada has seen its share of issues.
One summer resident, Danny Costillo, said that things were so bad that, “Towards the end of the summer, I just stopped living there.”
The house was so bad that the landlord gave the renters an option.
“He gave us the option of either paying for a cleaning service or we could come and clean and he would pay us $10 for every hour’s effort,” said former resident Gabe Emerson.
The renters chose the professional service, which the landlord paid for.
“The cleaning crew spent over a week trying to fix the place up. It was two men and a women,” Costillo said. “I gave them beer one day because I felt so bad for them. They worked long days. The place was so trashed and disgusting. I can’t say they did a good job of fixing the place, but they definitely improved it.”
But the efforts at cleaning were not enough.“I was here two weeks before school started, and I was just cleaning,” said Dover.
Then the students began to notice other issues, such as the washing machine flooding portions of the basement, or plumbing in toilets backing up. Although the landlord had fixed a number of holes in the wall, renovated windows to make them functional, and added doors that were missing, he left many issues unchanged, resulting in the filling of two 40-gallon trashcans with raw sewage.
Luckily, things are finally looking up for the student renters. Soon they will all have a place to call home again; they will all be renting the newly renovated house at 815 Nevada Avenue where they can sit out on the porch, look out onto their old house, and smile with the knowledge they no longer have to go next door for fresh water.
Charles Simon, Guest Writer