By Michael Abeyta

DENVER (CBS4) – The Highlands, Five Points, and Park Hill are all Denver neighborhoods that have been transformed by urban renewal. Unfortunately, with progress often comes displacement of the city’s most vulnerable populations like the elderly, single adults or immigrants.

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Neighbors in the East Colfax neighborhood are trying to make sure displacement doesn’t happen to them.

Passions were high at a meeting held by the city of Denver Saturday to discuss the city’s plans to revive the East Colfax area.

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“People in the community are fearful and anxious,” said Neb Asfaw who runs a nonprofit in the area.

The city says they are determined to keep affordable housing along East Colfax.

“Making sure that our recommendations are touching on anti-displacement specifically prioritizing that is a major focus for us right now,” said Laura Swartz, a spokeswoman for the city.

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To be sure, the East Colfax Community Collective wants all of the area’s residents to be involved in the planning process. Not just the wealthiest. They want the City to come into the community and hold meetings.

“To say, ‘oh you can come out to a group meeting.’ Well many of our residents are in work situations where a Saturday morning is not available to them,” said Kim Brewer with Colfax Community Collective.

The city says they are more than willing to work with all neighbors to shape the plan for East Colfax’s future and keep affordable housing in the area.

“All of what we are doing today can be done online in a very similar format. We are also continuing to meet with our neighborhood groups,” said Swartz.

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While residents would love to believe them, they’ve seen similar promises made and broken in other neighborhoods like Stapleton or Five Points.

Kim Brewer says, “When the city planners are having these conversations and they’re offering incentives they need to practice a level of integrity that says okay we are representing these neighborhoods and these communities in this process and if they have no recourse and you’re not going to be committed to what you said then this is not a collaboration that is going to work.”

Michael Abeyta

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