Michael and Deanne Pickel live in a Residence Inn in Broomfield.
Deborah Mordecai sleeps on her daughter’s sofa. Her 24-year-old son lives with a friend.
The cousins welcomed Gladys Forshee to their home in Loveland.
And Patrick Kilbride has a niece to thank for letting him stay in his Ken Caryl home.
All were moved Thursday when the Marshall fire swept through Superior and Louisville, destroying more than 900 homes and displacing thousands of people. Now the Pickel, Mordecai, Forshee and Kilbrides are among the thousands of people looking for housing as they find out how – or if – they will rebuild their homes.
Forshee, 80, was planning to visit a condominium on Monday afternoon. If that doesn’t work, “I don’t know,” she said of her future accommodation. She has lost a house that her family has owned in Old Town Superior for over 50 years, and she has no plans to rebuild it.
The depth of the need is deep.
Some 991 structures were destroyed by the fire and 127 more were damaged, the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office reported over the weekend. In some cases, such as the Sagamore subdivision in Superior, entire neighborhoods have been burnt down. Authorities have not said exactly how many people have been displaced by the destruction, but government agencies and a real estate organization are mobilizing as quickly as possible to fill the gap in a community where housing is already scarce.
Amanda DiVito Parle and Shannon Schliep started the Marshall Fire Department Housing Needs and Availability Facebook Page Friday morning. The two friends are both real estate agents with ReMax Alliance; Parle is based in Arvada and Schliep in Aurora.
The page is designed to be a meeting place for people with immediate housing needs due to the fire and people with available space. As of Monday afternoon, the page had over 1,600 members. Among the dozens of positions, many offered free spaces.
The page was inspired by the historic East Troublesome fire of 2020. Schliep’s in-laws and several friends lost their homes in Grand Lake to this disaster. Over a year later, Schliep says she only knows two people who have been able to rebuild themselves and return to the community. She knows that some people evacuated by Marshall’s firefighters face a multi-year process.
“A die The big things with the recovery there was trying to help people find long-term housing, ”said Schliep. “Here below, especially with the market as it is and the limited inventory we have, it will be really, very difficult for people to find more permanent housing.
A week ago, on Dec. 27, there were only 1,950 single-family homes and 913 condos for sale in the entire Denver metro area, Parle said. It was all that was available from Longmont in the north to Castle Rock in the south and Evergreen in the west to Parker in the east.
As of Monday, those numbers had fallen to 1,576 homes and 571 condos available on the region’s multiple listings service. Rental and for-sale housing markets could become even more strained, Parle said.
“I think initially you’re going to see the rents skyrocket and it’s just short term rents,” she said. “I think you’re just going to see real desperation on the part of home buyers.”
Hundreds of people flocked to an office complex in Lafayette on Monday to visit the Boulder County Disaster Assistance Center and a FEMA disaster recovery center. Almost all of the major home insurers have also set up tents and mobile offices in the complex parking lot. People have filed insurance claims and signed up for federal aid while collecting food, pet supplies, COVID test kits and other necessities.
As of Sunday evening, more than 450 people had asked FEMA for help, said Jon Huss, deputy federal coordinator for the Marshall fire. He encouraged everyone affected by the fire to sign up for FEMA assistance even if they were unsure of their needs.
“There is going to be a great need for housing in this area,” Huss said.
Federal, state and local authorities are still determining what exactly will be done to alleviate the housing crisis, he said. When asked if FEMA trailers such as those used after Hurricane Katrina will be deployed, Huss said it was too early to know if this would be “an appropriate tool in this community.”
FEMA is offering up to $ 37,000 per household to help people with repairs and rental assistance, he said.
The US Small Business Administration offers disaster loans to businesses and individuals, said Rick Tillery, a spokesperson for the agency. These loans are available to homeowners and tenants who need to replace real estate and personal property, including cars, he said.
The Colorado Apartment Association put together a rental housing directory for fire victims over the weekend. Available at caahq.org/available-apartments-for-displaced-families, the directory contains results pages that are all ready to move in immediately, according to a press release on Saturday.
“Our rental housing market is tight and it can be difficult for displaced residents to find accommodation quickly,” Drew Hamrick, the association’s general counsel, said in a statement. “We hope that (this directory) can make a big difference to the victims of the Marshall fire, helping them identify the units available today in their communities. “
The results on the website cover the metropolitan area. The Boulder Area Rental Housing Association has its own website with available housing closer to the burn area. These announcements are online on barhaonline.org/available-properties-for-displaced-tenants. The Boulder Association has worked with local realtors and groups such as the Red Cross, University of Colorado Boulder and the Boulder Chamber of Commerce to get the word out to those in need, according to the new release from Saturday.
The Pickel fled so quickly on Thursday that they left with only the clothes on their backs. On Monday, the blue jeans Michael Pickel donated were tight around his waist with an elastic band as he met with representatives from Allstate at the FEMA hub.
The night they evacuated, the couple found a room at a Residence Inn in Denver. But they wanted to get closer to Michael Pickel’s work at a Walmart, so they moved to a Residence Inn in Broomfield.
For now, the insurance will cover the expenses. But Deanne Pickel said she knew it wasn’t a long-term fix – for them or for Allstate. Their insurance policy covers up to 24 months of temporary housing, she said.
“They said they would help us try to find something close to our job,” said Michael Pickel. But he feared that “semi-narrow” was miles away, forcing them to make a long drive while they rebuilt their home in Superior’s old town.
“We hope we don’t end up in Denver,” Deanne Pickel said with a sense of dread.
The Colorado Association of Realtors Foundation raises funds that can be used to ease the burden on fire victims, said Amy McDermott, executive director of the charity. The foundation plans to provide between $ 25,000 and $ 50,000 of its endowment fund and combine this with funds raised from real estate agents, brokerage houses, other individuals and businesses and the larger association of Colorado real estate agents to provide multiple opportunities for assistance.
Some of the money will go into grants for organizations on the ground helping victims with housing, and some will go directly to people who have lost their homes to fund things like mortgage and rent assistance, McDermott said. She plans to provide more details on the process for requesting this support at coloradorealtors.com/about-car/foundation by the end of the week.
“All is mobilize pretty quickly, which is fantastic, ”McDermott said.
Mordecai showed pictures of his house on his cell phone. She is still standing while her neighbor’s houses are pits of ash and burnt metal.
“I am so blessed,” she said.
Although the house has been declared structurally sound and she and her 24-year-old son were able to get inside to retrieve their belongings, it is uninhabitable due to ash, smoke and water damage. The house also has no electricity or water.
She said almost all of the houses that have been left untouched have ash inside and smell like smoke. Her daughter’s townhouse in Louisville is habitable, but there is a thin film of ash everywhere, she said.
“There isn’t a person you’re going to talk to who doesn’t have that,” Mordecai said.
His insurance company will pay for temporary housing until an insurance adjuster and fire remediation specialist determines what it will take to make life safe.
She was looking for a hotel room for Monday night because sleeping on sofas was already getting boring. She was picking up her son from a friend’s house because “We need to decompress their house. It’s a bit too much. “
Kilbride has found a spare room in the house of a niece in Ken Caryl. But now his commute to work at McGuckin Hardware in Boulder is over 70 miles round trip. He plans to stay with friends in Boulder until he finds a longer term solution while he waits to rebuild. But he’s not sure what it will be.
As for his Old Town Superior house, Kilbride plans to sell one of the two lots he owns and build a Tiny House. Before the fire, he lived in a 1,400 square foot house with his dog, Roscoe, and cat, Dusty. Both animals perished in the fire.
“You never get enough money from these people to rebuild,” he said. “You usually downgrade, you know? “