Josie Trujillo is no slumlord who accumulates properties for rent and neglects them.
She is not like some who simply are content to let her property sit and rot and the neighbors be damned.
Josie is someone whose life spun out of control and her house in Cragmor suffered. Along with her neighbors.
But now, 12 years later, the house is improving even if Josie is still struggling.
Here’s how it appeared in the July 18, 2002, edition of The Gazette when it was featured in the first Side Streets and came to symbolize blight in Colorado Springs.
Here’s how the house looks today.
Neighbors are much happier to see a freshly painted house with new windows and neat landscaping.
But her story is so sad and she has a long way to go before she’s able to live in the place again.
Her first goal is to complete the exterior.
The eaves along the back and over a small rear deck still must be repaired.
Then she can pull permits from the city and start concentrating on the interior.
It will be a huge chore.
The inside is bare studs and plywood. She has insulation in about half the house. But the amount of work needed is staggering.
Electrical wiring. Plumbing. A furnace. Water heater.
Her needs are great.
But she’s determined to get it done, even if it takes many more years.
Her house was featured in the first Side Streets on July 18, 2002, along with the Joseph O’Brien house on the west side, which has been condemned since 1973.
Neighbor frustration with similarly blighted houses led the Colorado Springs Code Enforcement office to campaign for an ordinance to combat blight.
The O’Brien house became “exhibit A” for neglect when the City Council adopted a blight ordinance in 2006. Josie’s neighbors also testified on behalf of the ordinance.
Here’s a look at that very first Side Streets on July 18, 2002: