Disabled Vietnam vet faces eviction after confusion, miscommunication over rent

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EDGEWATER, Colo. -- The FOX31 Problem Solvers have enlisted the help of the mayor of Edgewater to help a 68-year-old disabled Vietnam veteran who is facing eviction after months of confusion, miscommunication and misunderstanding regarding his rent payments.

“The police came by and said, ‘At 8:00 tomorrow morning you’re out in the street,’” said Michael Hazelett, recalling the knock on his door from Jefferson County Sheriff's deputies on Wednesday. “I get tight and I don’t eat. I don’t have much food in the (refrigerator) because I’ve been saving the money.”

Hazelett lives off of his Social Security and disability checks, and for the past seven years, nearly all of his money has gone toward his rent.

But he said confusion over a new payment system led to several checks and money orders that were returned to him in the mail. Within a few months, the late fees mounted and he faced a court summons.

When he made a court appearance last week, he said he made a big mistake.

“I really screwed myself around," he said.

After speaking only to his landlord's lawyer, Hazelett signed a stipulation agreement saying he would be out in just five days. He said he didn't realize what he had done until the deputy came knocking at his door on Wednesday.

“I’ve been calling them and saying, ‘We’ve got to work something out because I don’t want to be on the street. Please,'" Hazelett said. "But they hang up on me.”

When the FOX31 Problem Solvers spoke to a manager at Wheelhouse Apartments on Wednesday, he declined an interview but promised to tell the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department not to evict Hazelett until at least the weekend, giving them time to assess his situation.

The Problem Solvers also called Edgewater Mayor Kris Teegardin, who visited Hazelett on Wednesday night and vowed to help him address the issue.

“I would like to see that done," Teegardin said. "That there can be an agreement that you can stay in your apartment and they get their money.”

Teegardin also said he will make sure Hazelett gets the care and advocacy he needs in the future.

“You’d get housing services from us, a case manager, other things like that," Teegardin said. “If you’re willing to go. I will drive you to do an intake.”

It's an offer Hazelett was more than willing to take him up on.

According to the manager at Wheelhouse Apartments, Hazelett would owe more than $2,000 to make up for his late fees and another month's rent. Hazelett said he can afford to pay more than half this week, but he would need help or a payment agreement in order to reach that total.

A GoFundMe account is operating to help Hazlett.

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