T Nation

Family Evicted After Mother Killed by Gunman



Here is the story in case the link doesn't work:

By STEVEN K. PAULSON Associated Press, Associated Press

Federal housing officials are condemning a decision by the Denver Housing Authority to evict the relatives of a mother killed by a rampaging gunman three days after her slaying, saying there is room for compassion in federal law.

Housing and Urban Development spokesman Jerry Brown said Tuesday his agency hopes Denver will reconsider after the victim's mother and autistic son were locked out of their subsidized housing. The personal property of 47-year-old Sandra Roskilly was also seized and turned over to a public administrator.

Brown said federal lease agreements for subsidized housing with communities limit the ability of residents to turn over property to other people, but the rules aren't carved in stone.

"Our rules and guidelines are just that, and we would hope people would use compassion. They have discretion, which is why the city has a board to administer it. There was no notification on our end of an eviction, and we didn't have a say in it," he said. Brown said his agency is reviewing the case to see what steps can be taken to help the family, including finding them another place to live.

The Denver Housing Authority said it was forced to evict 70-year-old Doris Kessler under federal law because Roskilly was the head of the household.

Police said 31-year-old Daniel Abeyta killed Roskilly and shot a second woman in her leg on Friday. Abeyta is hospitalized and facing a first-degree murder charge.

The Denver Housing Authority was apologetic about Monday's eviction and issued a statement to KMGH-TV saying they had no choice.

"Under federal policies and regulations, once the head of household is no longer with us, a live-in aide no longer has rights to that unit. We understand the family is under duress, but we will be locking the unit because they have no legal rights. We know this is a very tragic situation and offer our condolences," the agency said.

The Denver Housing Authority owns and manages subsidized public housing under an agreement with the federal government. Denver agency spokeswoman Stella Madrid said the property was turned over Monday to the public administrator, a private organization that determines disposition of assets when there is no will.

"We secured all property in the unit yesterday and we secured the unit," Madrid said Tuesday. She refused further comment.

Kessler is now sleeping on a couch at the home of one of her children. Roskilly's autistic 18-year-old son is being kept in a facility in Pueblo but friends say he often visited his mother.

Roskilly's brother, Dennis Campbell, says his mother and nephew were given the boot by the city after 20 years. Kessler had moved in a decade ago.

"She's been living here 10 years and now they're telling her she's just a visitor and she has no rights whatsoever," Campbell said.

Daniel Markin has been friends with Roskilly for 30 years. He said he still has a lot of questions, including how his friend wound up in a gunman's sights.

Markin said Abeyta was upset his neighbor's rose bushes were growing onto his property.


So I am always blown away that people can read the same article and take away such drastically different points. This is a case in point, most comments online were sympathetic but some pointed out that the kid didn't live at the house he lives in Pueblo and the remaining mother and nephew are just using that to their advantage.

Which side do you agree with?


That is very sad and unfortunate, but- A government that can give you everything can also take it away.

This is what happens when your conditions are left to the decisions of a bureaucrat. They don't see people or circumstance, they see policy.


Unfortunately so true.

To me, regardless of the story they should give something like 7-10 days. I mean geesh it takes a day to pack, practically a half to a full day to take the packed shit and put it in a sufficiently sized uhaul.


A professor of mine used to say: "the A students go to the A companies, the B students to the B companies, and the C students into government".


I own alot of property and evict people probably every 60-90 days. No where in the article did it mention a lease agreement or who has been paying rent.. Not to be a dick but if you dont pay you dont stay thats how it rolls..
Its a sad story but what about the $$$ ? If I listened to everyones sob story I'd be broke. My guess is the HUD did not see her name on a lease agrement so technically shes a squater.. Bsed on her situation she could probably find some section 8 housing. Kinda shocked she didnt try and take over the lease years ago.. Paperwork is a bitch but hey thats how housing works

I recently evicted a tenant of 16yrs section 8 with a speacial needs kid everyone shit their pants but biz is biz thats the game


There is probably a technical reason she was never put on the lease. The mother probably qualified for the housing via low income and a disabled child. Start telling the government that other adults are staying there and through combined income you may not qualify.

My guess is that since the disabled child is in Pueblo at a special needs facility the state viewed the house as empty with its only legal occupant dead. Once they realized there were other inhabitants I do think they should have giving them at least two weeks to vacate. Like someone has already said you can't make arrangements in 3 days.


If this were in the UK I'd ask if there was a deed to the house? Was it not a viable/legal option to have the property passed on? The house was owned by a social project who never granted such permission.

If they dont have a legal claim to the ownership of land then they cannot claim it as theirs. And for all other purposes I bet if they were allowed to stay they'd claim to be tenants as a result of such permission.


"...federal lease agreements for subsidized housing with communities limit the ability of residents to turn over property to other people..."

"The Denver Housing Authority owns and manages subsidized public housing under an agreement with the federal government." ~ from the article.

Why wouldn't the Denver Housing Authority be able to establish ownership of the property?


When it comes to getting help from the government through assistance programs, the head of household is very important.

Cases are linked to that individual (and their significant other, if there is one). So if that individual loses eligibility, moves, dies, etc. then the case gets closed. That's how it works. So any residual effects happen.

If you live in subsidized housing, you should really be prepared for things like this to happen, because they do all the time. At any point your assistance can be taken away for a number of reasons. This story is just getting a lot of attention in the media and government officials not associated with the housing authority are showing sympathy so they don't look bad when asked about it.

Generally speaking, policy IS set in stone and all policies are set for specific reasons. The government does not make policy just for it to be loosely followed... at least not when it applies to regular citizens who are not high-ranking government officials.