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ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. -- As we continue to experience skyrocketing rent and housing prices in Our Colorado, Adams County residents could argue they are getting hit the hardest.
According to research from Princeton University, Adams County has the highest eviction rate sitting at 4.4 percent for renters in Colorado and also stacks up to cities around the nation.
To address this issue, six cities in Adams County including the county, are putting more than $182,000 towards a two-year pilot program called the Landlord/Tenant Legal Services Pilot Program that would provide legal services to people who are struggling to pay rent or are in danger of losing their homes. Denver launched a similar program in June of this year.
“Folks living in rentals now quite often don’t have the choices they did before,” said Adams County Commissioner Steve O’Dorisio.
O’Dorisio said finding housing is already a challenge with the high demand and low availability in the Denver Metro market. He said many of the concerns he hears are from people living in mobile home park communities.
“Sometimes the framework is not entirely fair or equitable, and we were finding that some landlords were even violating the law,” said O’Dorisio.
He hopes legal services can help bridge the gap between residents and landlords when it comes to working through situations that could potentially lead to evictions.
“We are hoping that this will help keep people in their homes and also help alleviate some of the stress on families and even on the government services,” said O’Dorisio.
Another goal of the program is to help people know their rights as a tenant in the state of Colorado.
“We actually have very limited tenants’ rights here in Colorado,” said Emma Pinter, Westminster City Councilor. “Having a legal aid clinic will help people understand what the law covers and what is important to them.”
Pinter has seen the cost of living change dramatically in Westminster.
“Some of the apartments have doubled in the past five years, most people’s salaries have not doubled,” said Pinter.
The average cost of a two bedroom apartment in Adams County is around $1,400 a month. For many that’s unaffordable, and in increasing cases, it is leading to eviction.
“The overall pressure on the rental market is pretty extreme in this community,” said Pinter.
There will be two locations for people to access the legal services, the Irving Street Library in Westminster and at the Adams County Justice Center in Brighton.
Aurora City Council will be the final city set to vote on approving funding for the pilot program at Monday night’s meeting. The program should officially launch by mid-November or early December.