Denver Landlady Joyce Thorn Values Community Over Cash

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<p>(Stephanie Wolf/CPR News)</p>
Photo: Denver&#039;s nicest landlady Joyce Thorn
Joyce Thorn owns and manages Mayfair Village in east Denver.

Joyce Thorn's half-block of rentals near Capitol Hill are different from others in the city. In her units, the rents rarely rise and tenants aren't evicted when they fall on hard times.

Thorn, 78, was featured in a recent Westword profile that asked: "Is Thorn Denver's best landlady?"

Joyce’s motivation has never been to get wealthy, but she’s careful with her money. She’s happy driving her old van around town and smoking non-name-brand cigarettes. She hardly ever dines out, because she knows she can make the same meal for less at home. She cringes when people waste water. And it irks her that the rich line their pockets by overpricing apartments. “Money is their goal,” she says. “To me, that isn’t what it should be about. I don’t think you need a third yacht.”

Thorn spoke with Colorado Matters host Nathan Heffel. Click the audio above to listen to the full interview and read interview highlights below.

On why she charges less-than-market rate:

"Because it's not nice to throw people out. And I want to be happy and be around happy people. And that helps. Happy tenants are better tenants. I'm not altruistic, I'm a pragmatist. The way we are doing things now isn't working. Raising the rents, as they did in Capitol Hill, is destroying the neighborhood. [It's] destroying the diversity, which is the charm of Capitol Hill. ... In the long term, it's not a good idea."

On who she rents to:

"I only rent to people who want to be in a community. Most people don't know what community means because we aren't used to being told that. We're told the family is our security. But now families are dispersed everywhere and sometimes families expect things from us that we aren't capable of giving. So finding other friends or colleagues who can give you the support you need or the security you need."

On her long-term plans:

"My goal is to not be in charge. That's why I need a few more owners in it who will have control over the money and will develop the community and take care of it. I've been king of enough things and I don't need to be king anymore."