DENVER — About a hundred people gathered at the west side steps of the State Capitol Sunday afternoon for a rally about a crisis impacting many Coloradans.
"If you've ever experienced that, living and surviving, it's two different things, and it's just not fair," Mariah Rodriguez said.
She lives on a limited income after suffering a brain injury in a car crash. Paying for public housing — and supporting her four children — is getting harder and harder.
"Sometimes, it feels shameful to not be able to go into the mall and buy your kids shoes or go out to eat like everybody else or go to the movies, things like that," Rodriguez said.
It's why she and several others spoke at the Colorado Homes for All rally, calling on state leaders to repeal the 1981 ban on rent stabilization.
"We've heard stories of folks whose rental increases have gone up by $500 one month and they've had to leave their homes, and that's with their homes still not being completely habitable," coalition manager Yocelyn Iboa said.
She believes it's time cities and counties, like Denver, have the ability to implement rent protections that fit their communities.
"I think you could see more stable rent hikes, so not as exorbitant as we've seen in the past couple of years. More consistent and more predictable," Iboa said.
Council member Jamie Torres agrees.
"Everything that happens in Denver hinges on our residents' ability to afford to live here," she said at the rally.
According to the University of Denver's Denver Metro Apartment Vacancy and Rent report, the average rent for the first quarter of 2022 was $1,765.61. In the first quarter of 2019, it was $1,480.74, a nearly $300 increase.
As Rodriguez and others continue to advocate on their behalf, they hope state lawmakers listen closely.
"All the projects that they've torn down and just different communities, you see everything just changing," she said. "Nine out of ten people, you'll hear the same story."
In 2019, a state bill to repeal the ban failed. Advocates hope they'll have better luck in 2023.