By Karen Morfitt

DENVER (CBS4)– Unemployment numbers continue to go up in Colorado. Another 16,398 people in the state filed their first unemployment claims last week. In the last four-and-a-half months, 646,797 Coloradans have filed claims.

Now, expanded unemployment benefits are about to expire and some believe it will lead to a surge in evictions, others say that won’t be the case.

Catherine Azar has been renting her home for four years.

“It was May when things started to get a little scary,” she said.

That’s when Azar says her business working with show horses came to a screeching halt, and so did her income.

“It’s been hard, challenging and scary,” Azar said.

She says her application for unemployment was never processed, and was told that a glitch in the system may have caused the mix-up that kept her from receiving any benefits.

(credit: CBS)

Without that support she says she was unable to pay her rent and with a ban on evictions lifted, she may end up losing her home.

“If I don’t have any money to pay her, literally I would be out on the street,” Azar said.

It’s a scenario that Javier Mabrey with the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project says will become more common as unemployment benefits start to expire.

“Right now more than 200 Coloradans are getting $600 extra a week, that has been able to keep people afloat,” he said.

For those waiting on the rent, the outlook is much more optimistic.

Drew Hamrick with the Denver Metro Apartment Association, which represents more than 75% of property owners in the state, started tracking the numbers when COVID first hit and states started to shut down.

(credit: CBS)

“The biggest point that we have seen is that rent collection rates have remained extremely strong in Colorado. In April, May, June and July have seen collection rates in the 90s,” Hamrick said.

Even with a change in benefits and unemployment at a record high the data doesn’t support the idea that a crisis is looming.

“We are looking at an unemployment rate above 10% and in 2010 the unemployment was 8.7% so we are dealing with a larger number but that’s not an astronomical difference,” he said.

Hamrick says landlords benefit from working with their tenants and ultimately want to avoid eviction. Advocates and tenants like Azar have a different perspective, but would like to see more compromise.

“I think we are obligated to do whatever we can to help other people,” Azar said.

LINKS: COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project | Apartment Association Metro Denver

Karen Morfitt

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