DENVER — When the federal freeze on most evictions expires at the end of the month, there’s no definitive answer on whether or not the numbers in Colorado’s unhoused community will grow.
Colorado nonprofits are preparing either way.
“We've definitely seen that as a result of the pandemic, people have fallen on what we might call harder economic times,” said Stephanie Kauffman, executive director of women’s emergency services for Samaritan House. “They've been let go from work or aren't able to find work. That has obviously impacted people's financial situations, their ability to pay rent.”
On July 31 the CDC’s moratorium on most evictions will expire.
Samaritan House is a nonprofit ministry operated by Catholic Charities. They provide four emergency housing facilities for single women across the Denver metro.
Kauffman believes the moratorium’s expiration may result in more people seeking housing assistance.
“I think we absolutely anticipate that we will welcome more guests into this space as a result of the termination of that moratorium. I don't know how long that will take. I think a lot of that will depend on how quickly some of these evictions process through the courts. But I think you are going to see a significant influx,” she said.
In Colorado, the statewide eviction moratorium expired on New Year’s Day.
There is a bill currently awaiting the governor’s signature that will limit late fees charged to renters and prohibit landlords from evicting tenants solely because they’re struggling to pay late fees.
Still, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 40% of adult Coloradans live in households that are "not current on rent or mortgage where eviction or foreclosure in the next two months is either very likely or somewhat likely".
Samaritan House hopes to help the housing crisis bed by bed. The nonprofit’s latest facility to open, Samaritan House 48th, is located in northeast Denver.
“So, our actual capacity to house unhoused women is just over 500 [at all four Denver Metro Facilities]. This site alone can help up to 270 women,” Kauffman said.
Right now, there are about 70 beds in use at the 48th location. At each facility, women are provided three hot meals a day and caseworkers can be made available.
“What we would envision for someone long-term is having an apartment or a home that they can really call their own,” Kauffman said. “But we like to remind folks that things can get better, and sometimes the very first step in that process is just providing a roof over someone’s head.”
“They've really been there to help me, and they really do care,” said Debbie Lloyd, a Samaritan House client. “This place is really a blessing because they're really nice. If you need someone to talk to they're there, and they do listen — makes you feel welcome.”
Samaritan House operates off of donations, if you’d like to support click here.