‘Apply now:’ As eviction moratorium end approaches, Glenwood Springs officials tout available assistance programs
Colorado’s moratorium on evictions is slated to end July 31, yet those in need of rent or mortgage assistance are urged not to wait.
“The biggest thing that people have to remember is that just because there is an eviction moratorium does not mean you’re not responsible for that payment,” said Marian McDonough, regional manager for Catholic Charities in Glenwood Springs. “What may be happening and what people may be panicked about is when the moratorium ends and they may be owing thousands in back rent.”
A national eviction moratorium went into effect Sep. 24, 2020, per order of the Centers for Disease Control.
Gov. Jared Polis extended the moratorium per executive order on April 20.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, McDonough said Catholic Charities fielded 100 calls weekly from those in need of rental assistance.
“Now we’re back to 30 to 40 calls per week,” McDonough said. “We were paying a full month’s worth of rent — up to $2,000. Right now, we have been continuing with that, but because of funding issues we’ll have to drop that down to under $1,000 in payments.
McDonough said over the last year the charity has helped over 1,800 people in need of rental assistance throughout Garfiend, Eagle and Pitkin counties.
Now, the best source for people who have over $2,000 in back rent would be to seek assistance through the Colorado Emergency Rental Assistance Program, McDonough said.
“They’ll do back rent for up to nine months,” McDonough said. “Apply now; don’t wait.”
Based on the number of entities that provided rental assistance to people in the region, McDonough said she doesn’t expect to see as many people in a true crisis situation once the moratorium is lifted.
“Unless somehow they really fell through the cracks and weren’t aware there was so much money available,” McDonough said.
Glenwood Springs community activist Debbie Wilde said it’s hard to gauge how many people will be left homeless following the end of the moratorium.
“People that haven’t reached out anywhere, those are the people that are the question marks,” Wilde said. “Even though there’s some amazing dollars through the American Recovery Plan, that’s the big thing — do people know what to do?”
At Six Canyon Apartments in Glenwood Springs, the complex’s community manager, Debra Powers, said her tenants have been able to make rent without trouble.
“We’ve had really good luck with anyone that’s been past due. They’ve been able to make rent,” Powers said. “I was just really impressed that (Six Canyon’s) delinquencies are very, very low, and the residents were able to stay afloat.”
Powers began working for Six Canyon Apartments this summer and managed properties in Denver prior to making her way to Glenwood Springs.
“Down in Denver, delinquencies were a little bit higher than normal but there were a lot of outreach programs that I connected my tenants with,” Powers said.
“I consider my tenants like my kids. I do what I can to be able to assist them so they can live comfortably.”
Currently, 116 tenants reside at Six Canyon Apartments, which is at full capacity and has been for over a year, Powers said.
Jennifer Wherry, executive director of Alpine Legal Services in Glenwood Springs, said that’s the big question — what will be the fallout after the moratorium is lifted?
“Every single eviction case is different. The reasons someone might be evicted could be the lease is up,” Wherry said.
“They’re not renewing the lease — we’re finding that to be the most common. Landlords can get a lot more money for housing right now. There’s a lot of competition for housing. It’s a function of supply and demand.”
Wherry said she and others who are trying to get a grasp on how many people will be in need of rental assistance or housing in general have been spreading awareness of the importance of reaching out to mediators and letting landlords know what’s going on.
“I think it’s going to take some time to build some collaboration,” Wherry said.
“It’s not the first thing for people to think about mediation when there’s a dispute. Tenants think if they don’t say anything it’s better. Most landlords are aware of rental assistance that’s available and can connect their tenants to their resources.”
Wherry said that for those who are dealing with a housing crisis, making rental payments or reaching out for help can be difficult.
“You really can’t make good decisions when you’re living in a crisis,” Wherry said.
“It’s very hard to make good decisions. That’s where our community is impacted. That’s not a good indicator for a healthy community. We’re doing all we can do to know what we don’t know.”
Reporter Shannon Marvel can be reached at 605-350-8355 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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