DENVER — In the month of March, evictions in Denver surpassed pre-pandemic levels.
According to Denver’s Department of Housing Stability, in March, there were 771 eviction filings in the City and County of Denver. In March 2019, before the pandemic began, there were 708.
“I think we all knew that at some point, we would see evictions climb, which we saw in 2022,” said Denver’s Chief Housing Officer Britta Fisher.
Fisher says when the moratorium lifted, evictions skyrocketed.
“We're concerned, and we have some great plans and some great partners that are doing everything possible to help our residents and address those concerns," Fisher said. "At the same time, it is hard to see those numbers creep back up, and really our goal is that we help those to come back down and give people the resources that are currently available."
From June 2021 to March 2022, Denver’s Department of Housing Stability reported providing housing help to 2,100 households through the city’s contracted partners.
“That's many thousands of households with more than $49 million of rent assistance distributed in Denver County,” Fisher said.
The Colorado Housing Connects help line has also seen a higher number of calls for help per week compared to 2021. The hotline helps connect tenants and homeowners with resources.
Program director Patrick Noonan says lately, there are two main issues callers want help with.
“Number one is people having trouble paying the rent and looking to get out of the hole. Number 2 is people looking for stability, more affordability in their rental unit, trying to keep a roof over their head,” Noonan said.
Another organization that is also trying to help Coloradans navigate housing issues and provide access to resources is the Community Outreach Service Center in Five Points.
“I'm doing quite a bit of ERAP, which is emergency rental assistance program,” said LaShawn Marshall, a case manager with Community Outreach Service Center.
Marshall says she’s reached out to landlords, but many have been uncooperative.
“I’m running into landlords not doing the paperwork to keep [tenants] from being evicted,” Marshall said.
Marshall says to receive emergency rental assistance, tenants and landlords must fill out government forms.
Tenant Glennis Williams, who is currently facing eviction, says it took her landlord months to fill out the forms, while the amount of rent she owed continued to increase.
“I think that they were just letting it go on until they could get the most money,” Williams said.
Willaims, who is 72-years-old, says she had to start working again to catch-up on her rent payments.
“I had retired from Kaiser Permanente,” Williams said. “My son and I, we’re facing an eviction. We had no problem with our rent, but he suffered a TBI (traumatic brain injury) and couldn’t work anymore. I only get $1,200 a month from Social Security and I give my landlords $850. So, there's still no money for the household.”
According to a USA Today study, Williams falls into a group most likely to face eviction — Black women.
“They're screening us out pretty much," Marshall said. "It’s sad but it’s true."
Marshall and Willams say rental assistance is a great resource, but Colorado needs to address systemic issues to truly provide housing stability.