Unpopular tenant get’s attorney’s help
November 30, 2006
Sheryl Robinson, the 72-year-old Aspen woman fighting expulsion from a senior housing project, now has an attorney acting on her behalf.And if her case is not decided in a way that allows her to keep her apartment, she may have help finding a new place to live.Aspen Pitkin County Housing Authority Director Tom McCabe, said both William Hodges, an attorney with the Alpine Legal Services, by Vince Savage with Valley Information and Assistance, have contacted him.Robinson, who confirmed Thursday afternoon that both Hodges and Savage are working on her case, said she had met with Hodges earlier this week and was waiting for word from him before meeting with McCabe. She has talked with Savage on the phone, but they have not yet met, and Savage said Thursday his agency’s only potential role in her case probably will be to help her seek new housing.Robinson, who has lived at the Aspen Country Inn subsidized housing complex for nearly seven years, learned on Nov. 21 her lease was not being renewed for the coming year. Her lease expires Dec. 31, and under the terms of federal regulations governing the inn’s operations, managers can decide to not renew a lease for any reason. The rules also state that management needs to give the tenant no more than 30 days’ notice.The expulsion, according to housing officials, is because of complaints other tenants at the inn lodged against Robinson, accusing her of behaving in ways that make other residents uncomfortable or even afraid.She also is accused of peering through a window into another resident’s apartment, and McCabe indicated some behavior was possibly “dangerous,” in his opinion. He refused to elaborate or provide any details, and other officials have either declined to discuss specifics or have not returned telephone calls from The Aspen Times.McCabe said Thursday that although he had not met with Robinson, he had “released” an apartment Robinson had been hoping to move into before learning that she was being forced out of the complex.Robinson had been planning to move from her old unit, No. 116, to a new unit, No. 222, after her lease expires. She told a reporter in late November that she had discussed the furnishings of the new apartment with manager Cindy Tucker-Davis only a short time before Tucker-Davis gave her the letter advising her that she would be moving out of the complex.Upon learning that McCabe said he had released unit No. 222 into the rental pool at Aspen Country Inn – meaning someone else can move in – Robinson said, “He’s not supposed to release it until the situation is resolved.” She added the news “does not make me happy” but declined further comment.Hodges was not available Thursday for comment on his involvement in the matter. Savage, who said he has been aware of Robinson’s case for more than a week, explained that he had to leave town over the holiday weekend and has done little with regard to the matter.”It happened with a little less lead time than we would have liked,” he said, adding he has proposed the housing office give Valley Information and Assistance a call about “problem tenants” to see if there is anything it can do to help.Kris Marsh of the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation said Valley Information and Assistance, which the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation created more than a year ago, recently underwent an expansion in scope from its origins as a vehicle for funds and other assistance to victims of Hurricane Katrina.Now, she said, it is an agency that provides assistance to those in trouble, connecting them with various government agencies and departments.”The ball is in their court,” McCabe said. Earlier this week, he said he would welcome a meeting with Robinson and others to work on finding her another place to live and help with any problems.Savage said he is waiting to see how Robinson’s meeting with McCabe goes, and after that he’ll check with her “to see if she has a need that I can help her with.”John Colson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.orgThe Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.