DENVER — Evictions are skyrocketing in Denver, returning to pre-pandemic levels.
Community organizations that help people facing evictions are calling on the next mayor of Denver to reduce and eliminate evictions by 2025.
“It's unbelievably expensive,” said Zach Neumann. “People cannot afford to live in Denver, and they can't afford to live in Colorado.”
Neumann is the CEO of the Community Economic Defense Project, a nonprofit founded in 2020 to help people facing eviction and foreclosure.
He says their mission is now more urgent than ever.
New data obtained by Denver7 show there have been more than 4,800 evictions filed in Denver County Court so far this year, a 62 percent increase compared to this time last year.
In fact, the rate of eviction filings is the highest it's been since at least 2019.
But Neumann says that doesn’t tell the whole story because eviction filings come late in the eviction process.
“For every person that's filed against or for an eviction, there are two other households that have just thrown up their hands and said, ‘You know what, I can't pay the rent, I'm behind, I'm going to self-evict, I'm just going to move out, I'm going to try to figure it out,’” said Neumann.
That’s why his organization is among two dozen nonprofits now calling on the next mayor of Denver to end evictions for unpaid rent by 2025.
To accomplish this, they say the next mayor needs to invest $55 million each year in rapidly-paid emergency rental assistance, $10 million in legal defense, intake and navigation, and capacity building, and $3 million to measure program effectiveness.
They’d leave it up to the new mayor to find ways to pay for it.
“There are a number of ways this can get funded, but we expect and hope that whoever the next mayor is will make this a priority,” said Neumann. “We’ve got to stop evictions.”
Both mayoral candidates, Kelly Brough and Mike Johnston, say they will work to prevent and reduce evictions.
“I agree with the Community Economic Defense Project that focusing on prevention is a key strategy in reducing homelessness, and preventing eviction is an essential component of that work,” Kelly Brough said in a statement. “I support increasing support for timely rental assistance programs, in particular, and am also very interested in establishing a city-wide master lease program.”
Under a city-wide master lease program, the city would team up with a third party, like a local nonprofit, to buy long-term leases and make those homes available to low-income residents and others who face housing barriers.
A campaign spokesperson for Johnston said he has worked with the Community Economic Defense Project before and is committed to working toward eliminating evictions in Denver.
“Mike is committed to investing heavily in both new affordable housing units and eviction defense funds. He’s made a commitment to only put forth plans that have a fully accounted for budget, which is why his plan for affordable housing leverages Prop 123 dollars to build new units, invest in eviction support to prevent people from losing their housing, and help renters save money every month,” Jordan Fuja, a campaign spokesperson for Mike Johnston. “He worked closely with the Community Economic Defense Project in 2020 to ensure that Denverites did not lose their housing during the COVID-19 pandemic, and as Mayor, he will continue that partnership to work toward the goal of Zero by Twenty-Five.”
Neumann said it doesn’t matter which candidate gets elected, as long as they make stopping evictions a top priority.
"If you want to solve this problem, you've got to invest the money, you've got to invest the funds, and we can't keep going along the way we've been going on,” said Neumann.
According to data from Denver County Court, there were over 8,800 eviction filings last year.
In 2021, there were 4,800 eviction filings.
The year before that, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were 3,900 eviction filings.
In 2019, there were 9,200 eviction filings.