An Aspen Country Inn resident who’s been fighting the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority’s efforts to remove her from her unit was evicted on Wednesday morning.
Soon after, APCHA explained the reasons behind Dr. Amanda Tucker’s eviction in a news release — a move that was not well received by other government officials. APCHA claims, and a local court concurred, that Tucker misrepresented her income on a rental application.
A county court judge in May issued an order allowing the eviction to go forward in Tucker’s case, after she lost her appeal of an October 2018 decision in favor of APCHA. The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, which oversees evictions as a civil matter, issued Tucker a final notice on Sept. 17 that she had to vacate the premises or face a forced eviction.
The sheriff’s office and officials from APCHA conducted the eviction Wednesday morning with the help of hired movers who boxed up Tucker’s belongings and set them on the curb outside her unit.
“It’s uncomfortable. It’s not something anyone wants to see or wishes to see. I speak on behalf of APCHA and myself personally — no one wants to see it come to this,” APCHA Executive Director Mike Kosdrosky said.
APCHA pursued a compliance case against Tucker, a former anesthesiologist, last year after finding that she did not include her Social Security income on her tenant-qualification paperwork. Had she done so, she would have exceeded the threshold to live in the low-income rental unit.
“APCHA’s mission is to house Pitkin County workers and their families who meet all employment and financial eligibility requirements,” Kosdrosky said in a press release announcing the eviction. “If an individual or household fails to follow the rules, it creates inequities in a system designed to be equitable and fair for those who remain compliant. Use and occupancy of a deed-restricted unit by a household that does not qualify only deprives other qualifying households of that opportunity.”
Meanwhile, APCHA’s news release was deemed by some officials to be in poor taste.
“We think it’s unfortunate for someone getting evicted, and I don’t think their misfortune should turn into a press release or a headline,” Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said, adding that he did not know APCHA would be making an announcement about the eviction until after the release went out to the public at 11:17 a.m., after the eviction was complete.
“It’s disappointing and not very compassionate,” DiSalvo said.
He added that whatever the circumstances of Tucker’s dispute with APCHA, “It’s her right to fight, to go through the court system.”
Kosdrosky said he felt that sending out the press release was appropriate because Tucker’s was a high-profile case that had received media attention in the past.
“We wanted to present the facts,” Kosdrosky said. “We knew she would likely protest publicly and misrepresent the facts.”
He added that the APCHA board has directed him to “get in front of” stories that may reflect negatively on the housing authority.
Tucker did not appear at Wednesday’s APCHA board meeting to speak during public comment, as she has before to discuss her case. However, some APCHA board members agreed with DiSalvo that publicizing the eviction was inappropriate.
“It sounded triumphant and I don’t think we need to gloat about work such as that, mentioning individuals, other departments [that] were not consulted,” said Rachel Richards, an Aspen City Council member who serves as an alternate on the APCHA board, during a discussion about the press release at Wednesday’s meeting.
DiSalvo, who also was at the meeting, added, “I do take it as a victory lap, that’s how I read it.”
Overseeing evictions is one of the mandated duties of the sheriff’s office. “We do these, unfortunately, way too much,” DiSalvo said.
While it’s rare — perhaps a twice-a-year occurrence — for an eviction case to progress to the point where law enforcement and hired movers come in to remove a person’s belongings, notifying residents that they must either vacate or face that outcome is much more of a regular event, DiSalvo said.
APCHA notified Tucker on June 7 that a court had ruled that her eviction can proceed. The sheriff’s office sent Tucker a final notice on Sept. 17.
“She had plenty of time,” Kosdrosky said. “It’s not as if it was a surprise to her.”
APCHA also is entangled in another high-profile fight with a resident it has gone to court to evict. A court has ruled in APCHA’s favor against Lee Mulcahy, an artist APCHA says was not meeting the minimum work requirement to live in employee housing. Mulcahy has a final appeal pending, but APCHA is seeking to have a receiver appointed who would enforce the judge’s decision, allowing the eviction to go forward.
Mulcahy, who has made common cause with Tucker, maintains that he will not comply with any forced eviction and would instead be taken to jail rather than cooperate, should the day of his eviction come.
In Tucker’s case, APCHA has maintained that its ability to provide low-income housing at the Aspen Country Inn was jeopardized by her actions.
Aspen Country Inn is a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit property with specific tenant-eligibility criteria. If a tenant fails to report income or falsifies documentation that would put that tenant over the maximum income allowed, then APCHA must terminate the lease as soon as possible to bring the property back into compliance, according to the press release.
“Any non-compliance of a LIHTC property violates federal tax credit and Colorado Housing Finance Authority regulations and could lead to the revocation of tax credits, potentially costing the city and taxpayers millions of dollars,” the release says.
Staff writer Alycin Bektesh contributed to this story.