DENVER – As Denver’s City Council works to implement new legislation to create a citywide Eviction Defense Fund, providing free legal help to tenants facing eviction, another organization wants the city to take the new legislation a step further.
No Eviction Without Representation, more commonly known as NEWR Denver, supports the eviction defense fund, but NEWR Denver Activist Wren Echo told Denver7 the organization is disappointed with two elements of the new law: Income requirements and lack of perpetual funding.
“It’s funded from whatever city appropriations has leftover, which right now is $4 million but there’s no certainty that would continue in the future,” said Echo.
Tenants seeking free legal aid from the city through the Eviction Defense Fund will also be required to prove they have an income at or below $55,000 a year for a family of four.
Echo said NEWR Denver is working to get its own initiative on November's ballot that would remove the income verification requirement and create a permanent funding source.
According to Echo, the initiative would create perpetual funding by taxing landlords $6.25 a month or $75 a year per rental property.
“It would have permanent stability because of this funding source…obviously (the pandemic) has brought this issue to the forefront of people's minds because of the economic crisis, people are facing evictions at a much higher rate, but even before the pandemic, these issues were permanent and we're going to see them be permanent,” said Echo.
Echo told Denver7 other cities with similar funds in place and similar sources of funding have helped keep a lot of tenants in their homes.
“In New York City, after right to council passed, the eviction rate went down by 86%,” said Echo.
NEWR Denver has until July 6 to gather 9,000 signatures in support of their initiative for it to appear on November's ballot.