DENVER — With the CDC’s eviction moratorium set to expire by the end of the month, a nonprofit has penned a letter to Gov. Jared Polis to prevent tenants from being evicted if they’re waiting on rent assistance.
The eviction moratorium put in place to prevent landlords from removing tenants for not paying rent during the COVID-19 pandemic expires on July 31. The statewide eviction moratorium ended in Colorado on New Year’s Day.
The COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project released the letter Monday saying Coloradans who have applied for support shouldn’t be removed from their homes. The nonprofit urges Polis to issue an executive order to keep tenants from being evicted if they’re making a “good faith effort to obtain assistance” from Aug. 1 to Sept. 30.
SB-173 gives tenants up until the point of judgment in eviction court to secure and pay outstanding rent and stay in their rentals beginning Oct. 1.
Polis signed SB-173, which was sponsored by Colorado Democrats, into law on June 25. It also has several provisions that help renters bide time to make rent payments, like establishing a week-long grace period before late fees and capping late fees.
The letter says thousands of Colorado renters are working to obtain rental assistance and some remain unaware that the assistance exists, leading to “considerable unpaid housing debt, and instability for tenants and landlords alike.”
“No one eligible for rental assistance should be put out of their homes, especially because of systemic factors beyond their control. Allowing hardworking renters to be evicted at this point in Colorado’s recovery would cause particular harm to individuals, families, and our community,” the letter says.
According to the letter, the State Division of Housing reported that as of the first week of July, 36,606 applications for assistance have been approved since March 2020, totaling more than $100 million. An additional 12,235 applications are currently outstanding or in-process, totaling nearly $78 million. There are reportedly 9,079 applications that were rejected and 3,293 that are considered inactive. Requests for rental assistance are growing each week, the letter says.
The COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project says a disproportionate amount of the requests for assistance come from people who are Black, Latino, Native American and identify as multi-racial.
“Even as many Coloradans are beginning to feel relief from the pandemic, many of those hardest-hit face a longer road to recovery,” the letter says.
Today, we are excited to release a letter asking @GovofCO @jaredpolis to prevent the eviction of tenants who are waiting on rent assistance. If you've applied for support, you shouldn't be removed from your home. #KeepColoradansHousedhttps://t.co/DsKLDXVBZ4— CO Eviction Defense Project (@CoEvictionDef) July 26, 2021
Three dozen elected officials signed onto the letter, as well as several other organizations and nonprofits.
During his State of the City address Monday, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said one of his initiatives is to create more programs to help keep people from becoming homeless to begin with, through options like rental and utility assistance, eviction-protection programs and creating new and preserving existing affordable homes.
Some organizations who help people who are unhoused, like Samaritan House, believe the end of the eviction moratorium may result in more people seeking housing assistance.
However, landlords have taken issue with the eviction moratorium throughout the pandemic and SB-173.
"Well, most landlords don't like legislation of this type because it makes it tougher on them to be a landlord. It makes it more expensive and more burdensome," William Bronchick, president of the Colorado Landlord's Association, previously told Denver7. "Ultimately what it does, it's going to drive a number of landlords out of the business because they don't want to deal with this type of regulation, which results in fewer rentals and higher prices for tenants."
According to government data, around 7 million Americans were behind on their rent earlier this summer.