Housing problems persist for CU Boulder students at Sterling University Peaks

BOULDER, Colo. -- It’s back to school for tens of thousands of CU students in Boulder Monday.

But some of them will return to class without a place to lay their heads.

We first told you about problems at an off-campus apartment complex Thursday.

The City of Boulder declared Sterling University Peaks uninhabitable and forced students out for their own safety.

The complex reported the problem as solved.

But we’re learning from students and parents, that’s not the case.

“I came out the door to throw the trash out, and I see a body lying on the bench right there,” says Linda Gill, who is a sorority house manager.

“It’s my child who is asleep on this bench, shivering,” she says incredulously.

Her son, Chasen Varga, a CU senior, had nowhere to go Friday night--even though he has an apartment at Sterling University Peaks at 2985 E. Aurora Avenue in Boulder.

“It was the hardest moment in my life,” he says. “I closed my eyes. That was about it. I didn’t sleep very much at all.”

“I’m angry at this point. And obviously, after I saw that, I went into the leasing office and went mama bear on them. And I still am not getting what was promised,” she says.

She said the leasing agents told her her son’s apartment would be ready by 4 p.m. Saturday. And they told her they would take care of his motel room if it wasn’t.

She says they told her they would call. That call never came.

She called back every number at the leasing office, including personal cell phones. Still, no one answered.

Varga was supposed to move in to the newly remodeled apartments last Monday.

But his unit wasn’t ready yet.

“There were doorknobs in the door. There were wires exposed where there should be outlets, again their equipment was everywhere, like literally, construction,” he says.

“Why did they lead us on? Thinking we can move in daily, telling us, ‘It will be tomorrow. It will be tomorrow.’ And we still don’t know when it is,” she says.

Then, the city stepped in two days later, busting the apartment owner for violating city building codes for life, health and safety.

About 400 students forced out until the owner could fix the problems.

“It seems someone got greedy. After they were approved for their remodel, they went in and subdivided illegally. And now their hand got slapped. And the kids are punished,” says Gill.

The owner illegally made 92 two-bedroom apartments into four-bedrooms by simply dividing each bedroom with moveable bookshelves.

“It needs to get solved tomorrow. School starts. I need be focused on that. I don’t need to deal with this. It’s not acceptable,” says Varga.

And he finds he’s not the only one with problems.

Dozens lined up on a day the leasing office is supposed to be closed.

Some wanted to know if they could move in. Others wanting to get out of their leases.

“They try put people in homes, and stuff like that. They put people out of homes. It’s the opposite of what they’re doing. And that is appalling to me. I have no respect for what they’ve done to our family and other families,” says Varga.

“He’s been worried about where he’s going to live, trying to get to work, I’m running him around. Where’s he going to take a shower? Things he should not be thinking about right now. I know there are plenty of them in same situation,” says Gill.

The complex had told students it would put them up in motels in the northern and eastern communities of Longmont, Firestone and Arvada.

But Gill said she doesn’t have the money to front the costs and wait to get reimbursed.

Besides, her son doesn’t have a car—like many students—to be able to get to a far-away motel.

Again, the people at the leasing office had nothing to say.

We were unable to determine the extent of the problem.

Gill says the leasing office said her son's apartment is the only one affected. But she was told by employees they still had 40 apartments to fix.

"Again, where the truth is, I don't know," she says.

The University will hold an information meeting for students tomorrow at the University Memorial Center, Room 235 at 6 p.m. to discuss their rights and responsibilities as off-campus tenants.