By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – Housing assistance groups say without an eviction moratorium they worry about residents forced out of their homes or volunteering to leave before they start the process while they still struggle to pay rent. Advocates say the money is there to help tenants and landlord stay current on payments but more time is needed to process applications and approve funding.

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“The eviction landscape is changing quickly, it’s changed significantly this month, it will change again next month,” Patrick Noonan, the program manager of Colorado Housing Connects.

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The Denver City Council approved more contracts on Monday night to administer funds from the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) for families unable to pay rent and utilities. Almost one in eight residents are behind on their rent in the city, according to the Department of Housing Stability.

“We’ve definitely seen people able to stabilize in their situation a lot since COVID first started,” Noonan told CBS4 on Tuesday.

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While some have managed to get the money they need, the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) reports almost $147 million approved for housing assistance since April 2020, others have seen their financial status change much later into the pandemic. One step the state took this month was switching to a direct deposit system on The Division of Housing reports 2,812 payments made over 10 days in August, totaling $12.7 million.

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“Seeking out the information about what they can do to protect themselves and understand what their obligations are under the eviction process in Colorado,” Noonan added.

The Neighborhood Development Collaborative, a group of housing nonprofits, recommends local moratoriums that are targeted to the needs of smaller communities. The organization is concerned about the loss of a federal ban on evictions and no sign of any policy to extend protections statewide in Colorado beyond early September. DOLA had 814 evictions filed in August only halfway into the month.

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“Anyone who is struggling with their rent or mortgage needs to reach out as soon as possible,” Noonan said.

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LINKS: Colorado Housing Connects | Neighborhood Development Collaborative | COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project

Shawn Chitnis