DENVER — An unhoused Colorado couple who have faced roadblocks accessing resources was able to get a little bit of help from Denver’s Human Services Department recently, but now they say they’re back to square one due to a prior eviction.
“What are your intentions to really and truly address the homeless situation with real change?” — that was one of the questions a 44-year-old man, who didn’t want to be identified for this story, asked Denver Mayor Mike Johnston in a letter he mailed after Johnston was sworn in as mayor in July.
He said since sending the letter, he hasn't heard back.
Denver7 shared his story in June. He and his wife have been homeless since March following an eviction for struggling to make rent. He's been staying at different rehab facilities due to health issues, while his wife has been staying with her parents in a senior community. They've faced several barriers because they're an unhoused couple.
After the story aired, Denver's Human Services Department arranged for a deposit and first month's rental assistance. Now, they're struggling to find somewhere to live because of the eviction on their record.
"They treat you worse than a leper because they don't want to have anything to do with you. The minute you say eviction, it's like, 'Oh no can't do anything,” said the man.
He said he's reached out to organization after organization with no luck, including the Colorado Poverty Law Project, a nonprofit that primarily focuses on eviction prevention, offering free legal advice.
“We can help tenants understand what their legal rights might be and understand what the eviction is and what the application process is and laws around that,” said Lauren Rafter, a managing attorney at the Colorado Poverty Law Project.
Laws the project might help people understand include things like how to remove an eviction from your record, which Rafter said requires an agreement from the landlord, and then the court has to approve it. Rafter said if that doesn't happen, she can connect people to landlords who might be willing to overlook an eviction.
“In order for them to drop it, I either have to pay off the balance I owe them or have to complete a payment arrangement in order to do that,” said the man, adding that it will be tough to do in a timely fashion.
The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless can also help.
“We can obtain housing vouchers that have supportive services funding, meaning we can help the individual work with the landlord through the term of the lease so if issues do arise, we can help mediate those,” said Cathy Alderman with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.
The organization can also help place folks in bridge housing until they can find a permanent place to stay, but sometimes, those waiting lists can be long.
The 44-year-old man is holding out hope he and his wife find a place to stay soon. Right now, they're waiting to see if they get an apartment they put in for. If they don’t, they worry about being on the streets.