Certain Summit County mobile home residents went about a month without reliable running water, according to a complaint filed in court

Clouds roll over Farmers Corner Mobile Home Park at dusk on January 17, 2023. Some residents in the park have been without reliable running water for nearly a month, prompting local officials to take action, according to court filings.
Andrew Maciejewski/Summit Daily News

According to recent court filings, residents of Summit County’s Farmers Corner Mobile Home Park face a month of work without running water in their homes.

The water problem prompted inquiries from both the Summit County Department of Public Health and the Colorado District Authority (DOLA), which issued a cease and desist order against the park’s landlord on Jan. 3, filed by the Attorney General. executed by motion. Phil Weiser on January 12th.

DOLA told Farmers Korner’s landlord, Lori Cutunilli, on December 23 that certain residents of the traveling park had been “not running tap water and/or reasonable amounts of water” for about a month following a stoppage order. He said he received a complaint.

DOLA found that Cutunilli did not provide toilets to affected residents within 12 hours of losing running water, and provided residents with “running and/or reasonable amounts of water” within 24 hours. It said it had “reasonable grounds to believe” that it violated state law by failing to do so. of the problem you are experiencing, according to your order.

Weiser’s motion alleges that Cutunilli had failed to restore the water by January 6, which violated the deadlines outlined in DOLA Suspension and Withdrawal, and several of the Mobile Home Park Acts. indicates a potential violation of.

In an interview with Summit Daily News, Cutunilli said he became aware of the problem around the end of November. She expects the water to be drained and safe to use by Wednesday, Jan. 18, she said.

“This was totally unexpected and bad timing,” said Cutunilli. “But we feel we have moved forward as quickly as possible given the circumstances.”

Cutunilli said he took residents’ concerns seriously from the beginning of the incident and was in regular contact with residents and authorities.

One affected resident who spoke to Summit Daily said he felt Cutunilli should have acted sooner after contacting him about the drop in water pressure at the end of November. His water supply stopped around Christmas time, despite plumbing repairs in some homes.

Jeff Rank, 52, who has lived at the park since 1998, says, “I basically camp in my trailer. I never thought I’d be in a situation.”

Rank was told last year by Kutuniri that all the underground waterways would be replaced by the summer of 2022, but that has not happened, Rank said.

Cutunilli confirmed plans to replace the line last summer, but decided to wait until this summer because parts orders were delayed by several months. Cutunilli says the current line is as old as her 1970s (when her family bought the park) and hasn’t been replaced since.

“Can you imagine over a month without water?”

By November 27, according to Rank, the water pressure had dropped so much that the showers stopped flowing.

He filed a complaint with DOLA on November 28, but received no response until January 5, according to an email provided to Summit Daily. Christina Postolowski, who manages the state’s regulatory oversight of her Mobile Home Park Oversight Program, said in response to Rank:

Postolowski’s email arrived two days after DOLA issued its cease and desist order on January 3. She wrote to Rank that there were separate complaints about water issues and that both would be combined into her one case and investigated by the department.

Due to the ongoing investigation, a DOLA spokesperson said at Summit Daily’s request, “We are unable to share the investigation report or comment further at this time.” However, a spokesperson provided court filings.

Mateo Lozano, who represents the Summit County area for Latinx advocacy group Voices Unidas, said he contacted the county’s public health department on Dec. 21 and filed a complaint with DOLA on Dec. 23. We were told there was no running water.

Having an advocate for the Latino community is very important to residents, Lozano said, and many of Farmers Corner’s mobile home residents speak Spanish. Javier Pineda, co-founder and program coordinator of Mountain Dreamers, a Frisco-based immigration advocacy group, said his organization was contacted by residents seeking help on Dec. 23.

“Fear of retaliation from landlords is very common in this community,” Pineda said. “Immigration status comes into play and adds another barrier…often people need an intermediary like Mountain Dreamer.”

Both Pineda and Lozano said they conducted door-to-door surveys of park residents. Pineda said he believed more than 20 people had lost their water supply at some point in the past two months, and it wasn’t until authorities got involved that residents started seeing impactful results.

However, he hoped that the response would come sooner.

“Can you imagine being without water for over a month with complaints and no action?” Pineda said. “It took a while to get it going, but now it’s a machine you can’t turn off.”

Rank said he feels the situation “wasn’t taken seriously at all” until the state took legal action.

“There are families who live here, there are people,” he said. “It’s kind of careless.”

“We will continue to monitor it.”

Cutunilli said the first water problem, which occurred in late November, affected nine homes and was caused by frozen underground pipes. Underground pipe to the unit.

Heat tape is an electrical cable that can be wrapped around pipes to prevent freezing. Without it, even above-ground and underground plumbing can break and lead to leaks. Cutunilli said this is true for some residents, but mobile his house owner Rank believes the problem has to do with aging plumbing and lack of maintenance. said that

Rank claimed his unit had no leaks and provided group text messages between Kutuniri and other residents.

Cutunilli said he brought plumbers and public works inspectors to the site throughout December to repair damaged pipes. Weiser alleged that Cutunilli used the services of his three unlicensed plumbers until January 6, when he hired one plumber to help with the repairs. .

According to the DOLA suspension order, water was restored to homes by December 30 after temporary pipes were installed. , “not even the right amount of water” was available.

At sunset on January 17, 2023, above-ground pipes lead to units at Farmers Corner Mobile Home Park. After receiving complaints that the park did not have reliable tap water, the landlord took steps to resolve the issue. A more permanent solution is needed.
Andrew Maciejewski/Summit Daily News

Those residents have continued to face problems since then, but the water could be returned on Wednesday, Kutuniri said. Rank, who has faced intermittent water supplies since November, said he was one of the residents whose water supply was completely cut off in late December.

Cutunilli said he works to meet residents’ needs as much as possible. Voces Unidas president Lozano said that Cutunilli “made a good faith effort to fix” the problems, but that “these fixes weren’t good enough.”

Lozano said residents said they wanted a long-term replacement of the existing plumbing. He added that as residents continue to weather the winter, more freezing is likely to occur, even with temporary pipes installed.

“If you put the pipe on the ground, it’s more likely to freeze, and that’s what’s happening,” says Lozano. “We are going to monitor this.”

“improving people’s quality of life”

Rank said he spent the past few weeks showering, washing dishes and doing laundry at a friend’s house in Silverthorne, but that option wasn’t always available to him.

The longest he says he’s had to go without a shower is a week and a half. He said he vomited the same thing.

Lozano said other residents relied on the Breckenridge Recreation Center for showers. However, for some low-income families, maintaining access to the center was too financially burdensome.

Cutunilli said residents were reimbursed for recreation passes, provided portable water spigots, and rent was waived for the month of February.

“I take their comfort very seriously,” she added.

According to a text message provided by Rank, Kutniri said restrooms were made available to residents at the park’s office on Dec. 19. 12 hours from the start of the water outage. ”

County officials provided residents with a three-station shower and toilet trailer on Jan. 8, according to Wesier’s filing. As of the publication of this article, county officials have not responded to requests for comment.

On January 17, 2022, a mobile shower trailer provided by the Summit County Government will be placed on the property of the Farmers Corner Mobile Home Park to reassure residents awaiting repairs to pipes that have led to a lack of reliable tap water. provide.
Andrew Maciejewski/Summit Daily News

Resident advocates said the incident demonstrates the vulnerability of living in mobile homes, the most affordable option in Summit County for some individuals and families.

Residents “are stuck in places they wouldn’t normally go,” Lozano said. “I don’t think we would have these problems if we had affordable housing accessible to the general public.”

Lozano said some residents are hesitant or hesitant to talk about their experiences for fear of attracting too much attention from state officials.

“Once space is taken away, there’s nowhere else to go,” says Lozano. “We will do whatever is necessary to ensure that people’s quality of life is improved, not forced out.”

Rank said he is considering selling the mobile unit and moving into more stable housing. But he still hasn’t found a rent close to the $850 a month he’s paying for his land.

“Not bad for Summit County,” he said.

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