East Colfax nonprofit owners promise no evictions
Updates regarding evictions by nonprofit homeowners in East Colfax and the statewide homeowner group advising members to refrain from enforcing eviction orders.
Two nonprofits that own apartment complexes in Denver’s East Colfax neighborhood will not try to evict tenants who cannot afford rent due to the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
Monday’s announcement from Hope Communities and Rocky Mountain Communities came the same day an industry of homeowners across the state called on its members to refrain from enforcing eviction orders.
In their announcement, Hope Communities and Rocky Mountain Communities said that in addition to delaying evictions, they would not charge late fees or increase rents for at least two months. After that, the commitment must be renewed every month until the peak of the pandemic has passed or the associations can no longer continue the measures. The aim is to support people who are sick or quarantined or who have lost their income due to the epidemic.
Tom Meyer, a resident of Hope Communities’s Hidden Brook Apartments for 26 years, said in a statement the announcement would help his struggling neighbors.
“A lot of my neighbors are refugees and have low incomes and may not have the same access to public benefits as I do,” said Meyer, who is retired and lives on a fixed income. “By taking this step, these nonprofits are showing us that they support us and show compassion for the needs of the people they serve.”
The nonprofits said their decision was the result of discussions with two community organizations, the East Colfax Neighborhood Association and the East Colfax Community Collective.
In its ad, the Colorado Apartment Association said it “stood with” Governor Jared Polis, who last week encouraged local law enforcement to focus on issues other than evictions and said people should not lose their homes due to the economic impact of the outbreak.
The association recommended that its members refrain from moving people under eviction orders until April 30. The association also advised its members to waive late fees until April 30, avoid rent increases, and create payment plans for tenants unable to pay rent due to lost income. linked to the coronavirus epidemic.
“Our industry is 100% committed to helping Coloradans during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mark Williams, executive vice president of the association, referring to illness caused by the coronavirus. “We are a partner and resource for housing providers in Colorado and our hope is that state housing providers share the resources we have for residents and take our guidelines seriously … By working together we can ensure a promising rental community in Colorado. . “
Williams’ group have also compiled a guide that includes a list of programs across the state that can help tenants who are struggling to pay their rent. Denver Temporary Rental and Utilities Assistance Program, known as TRUA, for example, offers grants to help pay for utilities or to cover up to 80% of rent for those who meet income limits.
Mayor Michael Hancock announced last week that sheriff’s deputies would be deployed away from evictions until further notice. This means that in cases where court orders were made before the coronavirus slows down the legal system, MPs will not knock on the door to enforce a judge’s order that a tenant cedes a house to the landlord.
On the very day of the mayor’s announcement, the Denver County Court issued a long order of operations slowed down due to the coronavirus outbreak. The court order included an “extension” in deportation cases, meaning any court date to consider a deportation application would be pushed back to April. Landlords can still file legal demands for tenants to vacate their property. And some could follow up on the lawsuit by speaking directly to a late renter to discuss an out-of-court settlement. Landlords could pursue such a discussion with legal aid, and tenants might also consider legal aid.
“Indeed, tenants can breathe a little bit,” said Megan K. O’Byrne, lawyer for Colorado Legal Services, which provides legal aid to low-income Coloradans.
Landlords can still file legal demands for tenants to vacate their property. And some could follow up on the lawsuit by speaking directly to a late renter to discuss an out-of-court settlement. Landlords could pursue such a discussion with legal aid, and tenants might also consider legal aid.
Berhanu Ayele makes a living pushing wheelchairs for airline passengers who have difficulty walking. He said deportation is a very real possibility for him and other minimum wage workers at the Denver airport.
Ayele lives in Aurora, where district the courts will not hold eviction hearings until at least April 3. Spokesmen for the Adams and Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Offices also told The Sentinel, an Aurora newspaper, that those departments would not remove evicted residents from their homes.
Ayele said he welcomed the measures, but said state and even national solutions are needed.
“It’s better to act together for the global problem,” Ayele said.
In a statement over the weekend, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said Denver and Mesa, Weld and Boulder counties were among those that stayed eviction proceedings.
“I urge all Colorado courts to join in recognizing the urgent need to stay all eviction orders during this (coronavirus) emergency,” Weiser said. “No one should be without their home as we all grapple with this crisis. “
O’Byrne feared that once the courts start hearing evictions again, “there will be thousands and thousands of cases.” While realistically the courts would not be able to quickly overcome the backlog, Jack Regenbogen, an attorney for the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, called what O’Byrne described as a possible “deportation bomb.” “.
“What we need is a statewide moratorium on evictions,” Regenbogen said.
However, Drew Hamrick, general counsel and senior vice president of government affairs for the Apartment Association of Metro Denver, was cautious about any moratoriums. “Imposing a moratorium on evictions is too broad a brushstroke with far-reaching implications.
“Governments should not deny citizens access to the justice system due to a perceived crisis,” Hamrick added. “It is during times of upheaval that citizens need access to reasonable and efficient courts the most.”
Regenbogen, whose nonprofit is a think tank and advocacy group, recommended that tenants facing eviction proceedings “seek help from Colorado Legal Services if possible and try to communicate with their owner to reach a mutually agreed resolution if possible ”.
Regenbogen worked on 2017 report this has shown that in eviction cases in Denver, landlords are almost always represented by lawyers, and tenants almost never are. Since then, O’Byrne said, Colorado Legal Services has hired more lawyers. Last year, state law created a legal defense fund for tenants facing eviction.
Yet O’Byrne said, “There are many more needs than can be met.
“I hope we can find a way to help people stay housed despite the (coronavirus) crisis,” she said.