With Federal Eviction Protections About To Expire, Local Officials Are Asking Polis For A Limited Extension

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
An apartment building near Cheesman Park. May 7, 2020.

Eviction procedures will return to normal in Colorado in just a few days, as the federal moratorium is set to expire on July 31.

But a coalition of local officials and groups hopes to persuade the governor to extend some protections, at least for renters who are already trying to get help.

A letter signed by more than 80 local elected officials and concerned organizations asks Gov. Jared Polis to continue the moratorium for people who can prove they've applied for rental assistance and are waiting to get it.

The state has made millions of dollars available to assist tenants hurt by the pandemic, but it can take a while even for qualified applicants to get that money.

The letter says more than 12,000 applications are still pending, and asks those people should get two more months of protection from eviction, at which point a new law will take effect offering increased protections for all tenants in eviction proceedings.

"Even as many Coloradans are beginning to feel relief from the pandemic, many of those hardest-hit face a longer road to recovery," the letter reads, noting that the state's own data "demonstrates the heavy burden of housing instability borne by BIPOC Coloradans, with disproportionate request for assistance among Black, Latino, Native American, and individuals who identify as multi-racial. And because eligibility for currently available rental assistance is capped at 80% of area median income, these households by definition have lower incomes."

Fourteen Denver-area mayors are among the letter's signatories, including Denver's Michael Hancock, Mike Coffman of Aurora, and Broomfield's Guyleen Castriotta.

The governor's office would not say whether he will act on the letter's urging. In a statement, spokesperson Conor Cahill said, "Gov. Polis has taken bold steps to keep people housed during this global pandemic. The governor and the Polis administration’s approach throughout the pandemic has been to help hardworking Coloradans keep up with their rent payments."

The Colorado Apartment Association released its monthly snapshot of the rental situation this week, finding that its member landlords reported 97.2 percent of their renters are paying on time.

The report also notes that eviction filings remain at about two-thirds the normal rate. The association argues that there is no need to continue the moratorium in any form.

“The consistency of high rent collection and low eviction filings in Colorado in the first half of 2021 show that the programs maintaining the rental ecosystem, such as the ... ERAP program, are the right move to keep people in their homes,” said Drew Hamrick, general counsel and senior VP of government affairs at the Colorado Apartment Association. "Colorado’s stable rental economy demonstrates our programs are working and there is no need to artificially limit peoples’ access to court."