DENVER – Mayor Michael Hancock on Tuesday announced a series of new initiatives aimed at curbing the tide of evictions that have resulted in part due to the city’s rising rents.
Denver landlords filed more than 8,000 evictions last year, according to the city, and the Deparmtent of Human Services spent more than $157,000 on eviction assistance. So far this year, DHS has already spent more than $155,000.
As part of the city’s plan to reach its five-year housing goals under its ‘Housing an Inclusive Denver’ plan, the mayor announced three new initiatives: A new rent/utility assistance program, landlord-tenant mediation services and a landlord tenant guide with information on rights and services.
“We want our residents to be able to stay in their homes, build their lives and build their futures, and their city is coming together to help people in their time of need to do just that,” Hancock said. “These new tools will work in tandem with other affordability programs in the city to help residents remain in their homes, and keep Denver the vibrant, inclusive city we all cherish.”
The city’s new Temporary Rental and Utility Assistance Program, which coincides with an expansion of DHS’s eviction assistance program, will help low- and moderate-income renters who are facing a housing crisis such as unsafe housing or a potential eviction. Assistance will be available starting in November.
A pilot program offering mediation services aims to solve disputes between tenants and landlords without going to court, as well as give tenants some time to take advantage of resources available to them before an eviction take place. The free service is available by calling 311.
The pilot program is a partnership between the city of Denver and Denver County Courts.
Presiding Judge Theresa Spahn said some of the people involved in evictions are elderly residents who can no longer afford to live alone on a fixed income.
"They're 75," she said. "It's really hard for them to live off their social security, so they're finding roomates."
Sometimes the roommate doesn't work out.
"It's really compromised their lives," she said, "having a roommate that they have to get rid of. It's hard for them to navigate this process, so we have mediation up front at the beginning phases of this, at no cost, and people can sit down and find common ground, and solve their problems without the court process."
The third piece of the plan is a new, comprehensive guide for both tenants and landlords. The 32-page guide, which is available online, provides information on tenant and landlord rights as well as various resources that are available in Denver.