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Senior Advisor

A government big enough to give it to you

Can take it all back with the stroke of a pen. You will take what we tell you to take and you will do so in 30 days. Fascism.



Home sweet home is now bittersweet home for Cynthia Lopez.

The 35-year old single mom bought her Green Valley Ranch home  in 2012 for $150,000.

"While this is a great home and I appreciate it, I had something better for my daughter and the city shut those dreams down," Lopez said.


Just a few months ago, Lopez had a contract in place to sell her 1,200-square-foot home for $265,000 so she and her daughter could move to a bigger house nearby.

"I wanted to give the best for my daughter and she still asks me, 'When are we moving to the bigger house?' It's hard to make a 2-year-old understand that we have to stay here."

Just days before the home closing, Lopez was told her home was part of an affordable housing program that Denver created in 2003.

Out of 5,000 homes built in Green Valley Ranch, 642, including Lopez's, were priced as affordable housing. That meant 642 homes could only be sold to buyers who qualified as low income.

But Lopez insisted she had no knowledge of her home's covenant restrictions when she moved in nine years later.


"Nobody told me. I didn't sign any contracts. I didn't sign any documentation that is required by the city to be in the affordable housing program. My income didn't qualify. It was not in my title, it was not in my deed. Why do I need to abide by it now? Just let me sell my home at market value," Lopez said.

Nothing could be found in the title documents that mention affordable housing restrictions.

"Nobody had an answer, nobody has a straight answer as to how that can happen," said Michael Brena, the real estate agent who was helping Lopez sell her house.

Brena approached housing officials with the City and County of Denver for help but told the Problem Solvers he might as well have banged his head against the city clock tower.


What Brena said he was told is that Lopez could only sell her home for $186,000, $79,000 less than her buyers were prepared to pay, because the city only allows its affordable housing homes to appreciate 5 percent a year.

"I absolutely understand her frustration," said Erik Solivan, director of the mayor's office for Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere.

Solivan said the city is aware of up to five cases such as Lopez's, where homeowners have been able to buy homes deemed affordable housing without going through the proper income verification process.


"The speed of some of the transactions in Denver's housing market has created questions and misinformation," said Solivan, who admitted the city didn't hire a compliance officer until June.

As a result, Lopez said the city should grant her an exemption.

"This is your program. If you have a program, you need to enforce it. Or let me out of the covenant. I want to sell my house," she said.

Solivan was asked if the city was in effect punishing Lopez for something that isn't her fault.

"There is no punishment here because the review process is underway," he said.

When Solivan was repeatedly asked if the city would grant Lopez an exemption if the review process found she was not at fault and had no way to know she was buying a home deemed affordable housing, he refused to say.

The city never told Lopez it was reviewing her case to see if the title company or the city might be a fault.

Instead, two weeks after Solivan's interview, a city inspector sent Lopez a notice of violation informing her she had  30 days to "offer the unit for resale" and she would have to list her home at the city's affordable housing rate of $186,000.