Sep 28, 2023 - News

Denver evictions on track to hit record high

Illustration of a "W" shaped line graph on a grid surrounded by a dollar bill, a moving box, a briefcase, and an eviction notice

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Eviction could hit a record in Denver this year after a surge in filings.

Driving the news: The city's Department of Housing Stability said at a public budget hearing last week that it's projecting 12,000 eviction filings this year β€” far above the record 10,241 filed in 2010, according to city documents.

  • Mayor Mike Johnston said during the hearing that there are currently about 1,200 eviction filings a month, calling the situation a "crisis."

Why it matters: Evictions directly correlate to homelessness, which is growing across metro Denver.

State of play: The sharp uptick is driven by a dramatic increase in rental prices combined with federal rental assistance running out, local evictions attorney Zach Neumann tells us.

  • Neumann is CEO at Community Economic Defense Project, which started during the pandemic to provide legal representation to those facing eviction.

Threat level: People who are evicted can struggle to get housing or retain a job, while the trauma associated with evictions can leave a lasting impact, like PTSD symptoms.

By the numbers: The city has budgeted $12.6 million for rent and utility assistance β€” the most the city has invested annually for this program β€” in the 2023-24 budget.

  • But that's far less than the city spent in 2022 ($21.4 million) and the anticipated spending for 2023 ($20.6 million) due to a loss in federal pandemic aid money, city housing stability director Melissa Thate tells us.

Between the lines: Eviction or being asked to leave a home was the second highest self-reported reason for homelessness, according to the latest point-in-time report from the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, released in July.

  • The top reason was an inability to pay rent or mortgage.

Zoom in: Research suggests for every one formal filing, there are two households that self-evict, Neumann says.

  • "Whenever you see 1,200 eviction filings, there are probably 3,600 households that had to move out because they couldn't pay," Neumann says.

Be smart: Thate recommends people seek out resources as soon as they begin to fall behind on rent and avoid waiting too long before seeking help.

  • An eviction clinic offering resources is available Monday through Friday between 8am and noon in Room 163 at the City and County Building (1437 Bannock St.); calling 311 and pressing 6 connects you to resources like rent and utility assistance.

The bottom line: Eviction filings have risen by more than 50% from the pre-pandemic average in cities across the country, according to data from the Eviction Lab.


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