By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – Housing advocates trying to help tenants pay rent while keeping landlords with affordable options in the market say a policy on evictions needs to be based on economic factors. Their desire to see more assistance for those struggling to get money from the state came just days after a national mortarium on evictions ended and a new, limited order was announced.

“We’re in a pretty tight spot,” said Jonathan Cappelli, the executive director of Neighborhood Development Collaborative. “Just because the moratorium ended, it wasn’t tied to any specific indicators on housing stability.”

The collection of nonprofits working to house Coloradans have kept busy since the start of a new month but Cappelli says data available from the U.S. Census Bureau showed about one in five residents were unsure they could pay rent earlier this summer.

“Instead of figuring out how quickly we can crash the plane, it’s how smoothly can we land it. How can we do that? By tying it to actual indicators,” he told CBS4 on Tuesday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday it would set a mortarium on evictions limited to areas with high transmission of COVID-19. The current state of cases qualifies much of the country with many counties meeting that requirement. Parts of Colorado fall under those guidelines, the new mortarium would run until early October.

Cappelli said that there is still a large amount of available funds allocated for people to cover their housing expenses because of difficulties from the pandemic. He estimates that it is around half of the more than $400 million just in Colorado. The level of money for housing assistance, the unemployment rate, and the number of COVID-19 cases are all factors he would like to see included in a decision to end a mortarium on evictions.

“There are lots of funds, they just need, we just need time to get them into people’s hands,” he said.

Other considerations should be reviewed, including a high homeless rate and the challenges that were present before the pandemic, according to Cappelli. He explained that for those spending half of their income on housing before COVID, the time needed to gain back that money will take much longer than most deadlines allow for, depending on their job status.

“It’s not clear that everyone is aware of all the resources out there, you can’t just build it and assume they will come,” he said.

Shawn Chitnis