New houses in short supply for Marshall Fire victims who lost everything

Local News

LOUISVILLE, Colo. (KDVR) — With an already tight housing market, some fire victims are having a hard time finding places to live while they regroup and rebuild.  

Even before the Marshall Fire destroyed nearly a thousand homes, houses were in short supply and rents were at record levels.

For those who lost everything, it is like adding insult to injury.

“The hardest part for me is living with the mentality that I don’t have anything. I’ve never had that thought in my life before,” David Sunde said. 

Sunde is staying with friends for now.

“I have a daughter in Albuquerque. She has an extra room in her apartment. I will go down and be with her when I can, in the next week perhaps,” Sunde said. 

Fire victims are now forced into a housing market with few available options.

“I’m in a hotel. My insurance is taking care of that. They will find me an apartment eventually,” Reed Nelson said.

Nelson is staying in a hotel up north, saying it was easier to find a room there. He’s trying to keep a positive outlook.

“Well since I don’t have much, I don’t need much room,” Nelson said. 

Group aims to connect people with homes

That is why Shannon Schliep and Amanda DiVito started a Facebook page to connect people who need homes with people who have available homes for rent.

“My in-laws and several of my friends lost homes in the East Troublesome Fire. One of the greatest needs after that was finding housing. Having been there, I know what these people are feeling,” Schliep said. “Having a safe place to live should not be something they are worried about right now. It’s just nice to give people a common place where they can find a more permanent living situation.”

“Part of the desire for us to pull this off so quickly was the housing market was already in short supply. The rental market is extraordinarily tight as well, rents higher than they’ve ever been,” DiVito said. “We looked at each other and said there’s going to be a huge need for housing. So, this is a way we could serve, step up and be a force for good and also something we had good working information on and lots of resources and places to connect.”

They are both realtors and wanted to share their expertise with the community in need.  

“We are not talking the next week or month, we’re talking more long-term, like the next year, two-three years until people can figure out what they’re going to do and if they’re going to rebuild, rent or go somewhere else,” Schliep said.  

In just three days, the group welcomed more than 2,100 members.

“We just want to be connectors and help people problem solve and get solutions quickly. We would like to stay relevant and stay with it. As needs change we are going to try to pivot. For example, we know people need houses with yards, pet-friendly. We would like to do interviews with insurance adjustors or housing-related people, let the site evolve to be a good place of information,” DeVito said. 

“Unfortunately, I know personally this is a long road ahead for people. Whatever we can do to try to ease that burden a little bit, and at least get people in more long-term situations so they are not sleeping in someone’s recliner or sharing a home with another family. We’re just trying to help,” Schliep said.

Will evacuees stay in the area?

Some victims aren’t sure if they will stay in this area.

“I don’t really know what’s going to hold me here, except my friends,” Sunde said. 

“I have a lot to reflect on and think about. Do I still want to live here? I have all these friends in the neighborhood. Where would I go?” Nelson said. 

Homeowners are also concerned that labor shortages and supply shortages could create delays in the rebuilding process.  

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