May 13, 2021 - Politics

Colorado policymakers push ahead on eviction defense protections

Illustration of a cardboard moving box with the facade of a house drawn on it

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

State and local leaders in Colorado are barreling ahead on eviction defense protections — actions advocates say are still desperately needed to keep tenants housed and landlords in business as the pandemic drags on.

Why it matters: 31.5% of Colorado adults live in households that are behind on payments and where eviction or foreclosure in the next two months is likely, according to the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

Driving the news: A Denver City Council committee advanced a measure Wednesday that would give free legal counsel for evictions to low-income renters. The full body will vote on the proposal in the coming weeks.

  • And a bill that would prevent landlords from raising rent more than once a year and require 21 days' notice before price hikes is advancing at the statehouse.

The big picture: The federal eviction moratorium, coupled with billions in federal rental assistance, has had a slow, but positive impact on improving eviction levels, experts say — and these laws could help curb displacement even more.

  • But the moratorium, set to end June 30, was recently struck down by a federal judge on grounds that the CDC overstepped its bounds.
  • The U.S. Justice Department intends to appeal the ruling.
Data: Colorado Department of Local Affairs; Chart: Alayna Alvarez/Axios
Data: Colorado Department of Local Affairs; Chart: Alayna Alvarez/Axios

A compounding problem: Money is trickling out the door to those in need, in large part because of a backlog of applications for the state’s pandemic rental assistance programs.

What they’re saying: The "sheer volume of requests we have received compared to the staffing we had to handle them was severely overwhelming," Colorado Department of Local Affairs spokesperson Brett McPherson told Axios.

  • The agency has been working with a customer service partner to get through the pileup. As of next week, DOLA expects a "two-week turnaround time between when an application is submitted to when it is reviewed," he said.

The bottom line: "If you end the moratorium — because it takes so long to get access to rental assistance — you will see a lot of landlords evicting because they're not confident the money's going to arrive," Zach Neumann, head of the Colorado-based COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project, told Axios.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect the federal eviction moratorium ends June 30.


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