As Coloradans struggle to pay, rent assistance organizations provide record amount in relief

Denver ranked 24th for highest rent in the nation, apartment rental site data shows
Posted at 10:18 PM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-23 10:44:05-05

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Margie Bloom is struggling to keep her home. After ten years living in the same apartment with her husband, her rent was recently increased by several hundred dollars per month.

"On Dec. 22 we got a letter saying that our rent was going up $400," Bloom said. "We all are disability and Social Security. Everybody knows you don't make a lot of money on either one of those."

Her apartment complex was recently purchased by a new company and is now run by Deerwoods Real Estate Management in Lakewood. Denver7 reached out to Deerwoods but has not heard back.

"I think it's appalling that somebody would do this to seniors," Bloom said. "I cant even wrap my head around it."

Several of Bloom's neighbors also shared frustration with the rent increase. One couple has moved to Kansas.

"I got priced out of downtown Denver, so this is like the second or third time I have been through this," said Larry Patchett, another resident. "I would love to stay here. I've enjoyed staying here. There's no possible way I could."

The increase in rent prices comes at a time when a record number of people are seeking rental assistance because of economic hardship brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

"I think we have a huge crisis on our hands," said Laurie Walowitz, the program director of The Action Center. "I think that we are getting money out into the community as quickly as we're getting it in."

The Action Center, a nonprofit helping Lakewood residents pay rent, has distributed more than $1.3 million in rent assistance since March, a tenfold increase from the year before.

"There are not a lot of resources available, and the need is far outweighing the resources right now," Walowitz said. "There's a huge need."

This week, Denver City Council approved a $22 million assistance program for residents struggling with rent during the pandemic. Denverites can apply through the city website, or by calling 311. Other cities and counties across the state are coming up with their own programs as well.

But Walowitz says, until the pandemic ends, more resources are needed.

"We're doing the best that we can do to help everybody, and this is unprecedented," Walowitz said. "There's no playbook for this."