Historic neighborhood gets free overhaul

11:39 AM, Jun 20, 2011   |    comments
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For the first time, RTMD has taken on an entire neighborhood. The Barnum neighborhood is historic, originally named after P.T. Barnum of the Barnum and Bailey Circus. At one time, he owned the land this neighborhood now sits on.

RTMD specifically focused in on the homes on Hazel Court. Kathryn Arbour is the CEO of RTMD, and she says her organization often gets compared to Habitat for Humanity, but there is a big difference.

"We work with existing homes," Arbour explained. "It is the only asset for most of the low-income individuals that we serve. And for whatever life circumstances, most individuals have not been able to maintain critical repairs, they have to buy food instead or they have to take care of medical needs."

She said it is common to see the worst of the worst in these types of homes; asbestos, gas leaks, lead paint and more serious structural issues.

"This house was literally split in half, and the front end of it was falling off. We weren't even sure if we could help, but with our amazing network of people who volunteer for us and professionals around the metro area who step up. We were able to look at this house with a structural engineer, with a general contractor," Arbour said. "They came up with an amazing solution that fit with our mission and also worked with the existing home."

That existing home belongs to John "Jack" Jenkins and his wife Shirley. For the last month the Jenkins' have been staying at Hotel VQ, another local business that has donated resources to RTMD. The couple looks forward to moving back in to their home, but they knew it would take some time to make the house healthy again.

"Truth is, this house belonged in any ghetto anywhere in the world before they started," Jenkins said. "Right now this house could be picked up and moved to Highlands Ranch or the Highlands and fit right in, and probably sell almost instantaneously.

"Everything Rebuilding Together did on this house was something I wanted to do on this house, so when it came time to do it, I was here every step of the way," Jenkins said.

Jenkins is a Vietnam Veteran, he is also a cancer survivor. He and his wife live on a small income and Jenkins said many other families in the neighborhood are struggling.

"There are several homes on this block that are multi-generational, and two homes only became multi-generational recently," Jenkins said. "Times are tough."

Jenkins hopes to be back in his home within the next few weeks.

You can learn more about RTMD by going to www.rebuildingdenver.org.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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