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Colorado leaders call on Polis to protect at-risk renters

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Robert Davis | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) – Local elected officials and nonprofit groups from across Colorado co-signed a letter to Gov. Jared Polis asking him to extend eviction protections to renters waiting for assistance as the federal moratorium is set to expire at the end of the month.

The letter was written by the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project, a nonprofit focused on preventing “mass evictions and homelessness both during and after the pandemic,” according to the group’s website.

It calls on Polis to sign an executive order allowing tenants to be spared from eviction if they make a “good faith” effort to obtain rental assistance.

“No one eligible for rental assistance should be put out of their homes, especially because of systemic factors beyond their control,” the letter reads. “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 was signed by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman, Boulder Mayor Sam Weaver, several Democratic state lawmakers, and various city councilmembers, in addition to nonprofit groups.

According to the Census Bureau’s latest Household Pulse Survey, over 91,000 households across Colorado reported being likely to face eviction. Of that total, over 41,000 reported being “extremely likely” to face eviction while just 16,503 households reported not being likely at all.

The Colorado Apartment Association reports that 97.2% of renters in the state paid their rent in June, with evictions at the "historically low" level of 66.1% of their normal levels.

The federal eviction moratorium, along with the governor's executive order allowing tenants an extra 30 days to receive assistance, are set to expire at the end of the month. Some municipalities such as Denver have enacted their own moratoriums in response.

Bureaucratic backlogs have stalled the delivery of much-needed rental assistance payments, the letter argues.

According to the Colorado Division of Housing, the agency has processed over $100 million in claims since March 2020. However, it also has nearly $78 million in applications that are being processed.