DENVER — Following months of backlog, Colorado's Department of Local Affairs has compiled a list of solutions it believes will help the state distribute its federal rental relief.
In late July, a report from the U.S. Department of Treasury showed only 7.4% of $444 million the state received had been dispersed.
"We applied in April and we just got it last month," said Rae'Ven Hall, a Colorado resident. "It was really frustrating because we thought we were going to get evicted at one point."
Since the state's Emergency Rental Assistance Program launched earlier this year, there's been a ongoing backlog of applicants. The program's funding is distributed through DOLA.
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the agency said one of the biggest delays in distributing funds was the state's previous payment system.
"The State’s vendor set-up and payment processing system was not designed for the efficient and quick payment processing that was needed for this program. In order to launch the program as quickly as possible, DOH utilized the payment system available to it, but as of Aug. 17, we have switched to Bill.com for making payments. This allows us to make payments much more quickly and provide greater transparency on the payment process."
The spokesperson added that as of Wednesday, $149 million in state and federal funds had been distributed to 48,000 households.
That's a roughly $2 million increase from distribution totals less than two weeks ago.
The spokesperson also provided a list of solutions DOLA is using to ameliorate the backlog:
Funded Colorado Housing Connects, https://coloradohousingconnects.org/ 1-844-926-6632
- Non-profit partners and Local Jurisdiction partners
- Partnering with CDHS to automatically income-qualify applicants who have already qualified for certain other state programs.
- Added texting as a communication vehicle for applicants who prefer that to email.
- Added a method for a third party (e.g. a caseworker) to submit an application on behalf of a tenant.
- Increasing communication to landlords when tenants are missing documentation.
- Working with larger landlords to set up a system whereby they can collect all of the tenant information on their behalf.
- Developing a plan to contract with “case managers” who can provide one-on-one support for the most vulnerable tenants.
- Developing more automated systems to review and process applications and payments.
- Working closely with landlords to update W-9 information as needed.