Improving and protecting water quality in mobile home parks is a pressing need for some of Colorado’s most diverse and underresourced communities
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — March 28, 2023
DENVER — Fifteen organizations that advocate for equity and some of the state’s most diverse and underresourced communities announced today the launch of the Clean Water For All Colorado coalition to support efforts to improve and protect water quality for mobile home park residents.
The coalition, which is being directed by Protégete, Voces Unidas Action Fund, 9to5 Colorado, Hispanic Affairs Project, and Earthjustice, announced its first effort is to build support for passage of HB23-1257 Mobile Home Park Water Quality, which was introduced in the Colorado Legislature this week. The measure is co-sponsored by Reps. Elizabeth Velasco (D-Garfield County) and Andrew Boesenecker (D-Larimer County) and Sen. Lisa Cutter (D-Jefferson County).
Other organizations supporting Clean Water For All Colorado, include American Friends Service Committee, Center for Environmental Justice, Colorado Fiscal Institute, Color of Water in Colorado Project, Conservation Colorado, Green Latinos, Mi Familia Vota, Progress Now Colorado, Voces Unidas de las Montañas, and Womxn From the Mountain. (See a full list of supporters).
“Every person in Colorado deserves access to clean, safe drinking water in their homes. No one should have the burden of purchasing water because the water in their homes comes out bright red, stinking, burning skin and staining clothes,” said Rep. Velasco. “We need accountability and we need action. This bill creates both. It’s time to respond to the needs of mobile home park residents and support our working families.”
Added Rep. Boesenecker: “Providing protections for mobile home park residents remains a top priority of the State Legislature and this includes ensuring that the water in mobile home parks is clean and safe. For the sake of our friends and neighbors who live in mobile home parks, it's time to take action.”
Key components of the bill include:
establishing a water-testing program for mobile home parks;
setting prioritization criteria for mobile home park water to be tested;
ensuring public communications related to testing and results are available in English, Spanish, and other languages;
identifying funding sources for remediation;
having CDPHE’s environmental justice ombudsperson advocate for park residents in water quality issues;
and developing standards for action plans to address water-quality issues, including environmental-justice principles.
"Where someone lives shouldn’t determine whether they have access to clean, safe water. This is often not the case for residents of mobile home parks across the state. Our coalition’s goal is to address this inequity,” said Beatriz Soto, Director of Protégete and coalition co-chair. “From Protégete’s research through the Colorado Climate Justice Policy Handbook, we know that 1 in 5 Latino households is a mobile home, and the majority of water violations in the state are in counties where there are higher Latino populations.”
Added Alex Sánchez, President and CEO of Voces Unidas Action Fund and co-chair of the coalition: “We regularly hear from residents — and have personal experiences — with water that tastes and smells bad, causes skin rashes, damages appliances, and worse. We also learned from research as part of our 2022 Colorado Latino Policy Agenda that 40% of mobile home park residents believe their water is unsafe to drink — which is why passage of this bill is among our top priorities this year.”
There are over 800 mobile home parks in Colorado that veterans, older adults on fixed incomes, Latino families, and people with disabilities call home, but many do not have access to basic services such as clean water. Many residents have voiced concerns over the quality of their water, but too often those concerns go unheard or unaddressed.
Mobile home parks are Colorado’s largest source of unsubsidized affordable housing. A 2021 study from Root Policy Research found that, in Colorado mobile home parks, 39% of residents are people with disabilities, 29% are Latino, 27% are age 65 and older, and 22% are veterans. And, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the median annual household income of those living in mobile homes was $39,800.
More testing and data collection is needed to understand the water quality issues, and unique solutions will be needed to improve water quality. Park owners, local governments, and the state will need to work together to find solutions and be held accountable to make improvements. But existing laws, regulations, and incentives have been inadequate at protecting mobile home park residents from neglected infrastructure and poor water quality.
0For additional information or to add an endorsement from a group or an individual, visit: CleanWaterForAllCO.org