On Thursday, the Colorado Senate failed to move forward a provision that would have prohibited evictions during the COVID-19 health and economic crisis. On Monday, Colorado’s eviction courts will be open for business. Absent extraordinary action from the legislature or the Governor, tens of thousands of Colorado families will be unprotected and facing homelessness. We are almost out of time.

Coming home to an eviction notice is one of the worst things that can happen to a person. Being evicted means not having a place to store food or to cook. It means not having access to a bathroom. It means not having clean clothes or a place to sleep. It means not being able to work or send your kids to school. It means living in your car or on the street. By failing to act, Colorado’s policymakers will have put hundreds of thousands of people at risk, in the middle of a pandemic, with record unemployment, and federal benefits set to expire in just over a month.

The Governor or the legislature must act NOW. An eviction moratorium is necessary to keep Coloradans housed and out of court as we fight COVID-19.

Here’s what happens without action.

On Monday, Colorado courts will open and begin processing a backlog of eviction cases. Thousands will face the prospect of being kicked out of their homes. Thousands more will see rent demands placed on their door, starting the eviction clock. According to the Neighborhood Collaborative, 82,000 Colorado families are already behind on rent.

This first wave of evictions will primarily impact Colorado’s most vulnerable communities. People with disabilities, people who don’t speak English, those without legal immigration status, and people of color face disproportionate risk of eviction. Others, unable to access unemployment insurance, also face immediate eviction. These are the Coloradans who have been hit the hardest by this crisis.

Of course, they won’t give up without a fight. Until the sheriffs come to remove them from their homes, they’ll be working to track down unemployment benefits, contacting organizations about rental assistance, seeking credit card or pay-day loans, and asking family members for help. All so they can pay the rent.

This scenario already played out in Virginia. When Virginia lifted its eviction moratorium last month, thousands of cases were filed and scheduled immediately. In Richmond alone, over 1000 cases were scheduled for a two-week period in June. Landlords filed so many evictions that the state stepped in to halt evictions from proceeding. Colorado is on that same path now with those hit hardest by the crisis on the brink of homelessness.

Later in the summer, Coloradans will face a second wave of evictions. Millions have been kept afloat by the expanded unemployment benefits granted under the CARES Act. Those benefits have provided thousands of Coloradans with an extra $600 a week. When those expanded benefits expire in late July, hundreds of thousands will be unable to pay their bills. By September, we estimate that between 300,000 and 400,000 Coloradans could be at risk of eviction.

Communities of color are particularly at risk, Black and Latinx people are 55% more likely to work in the industries hardest hit by the pandemic. And 44% of Black tenants have little or no confidence that they can pay rent next month.

Across the country, red, blue, and purple states have stepped up to prevent a devastating wave of evictions as we combat a global pandemic and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Colorado’s unwillingness to take action to prevent homelessness during a pandemic is a moral failure.

Again, we are almost out of time. COVID-19 has ravaged our economy and it is not at all clear when we will be on the road to recovery. But we must continue to do everything in our power to prevent the spread of the virus and help those suffering in the wake of the economic crisis. We urge Colorado policymakers to do the right thing and pass meaningful tenant relief. You cannot be safer at home without a home.

To sign on to this letter, please fill out this form

Signed,

Organizations
The COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project
The Bell Policy Center
Colorado Center on Law and Policy
SEIU Local 105
Mile High United Way
Colorado Working Families Party
Cross-Colorado Disability Coalition
Coeffect
Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
Colorado AFL-CIO
All Families Deserve a Chance Coalition
Westwood Unidos
Mile High Connects
East Colfax Community Collective
Violence Free Colorado
Lincoln Hills Cares
Together Colorado
Coloradans for the Common Good
9to5 Colorado
Interfaith Alliance of Colorado
The Blossom Project
Denver Area Labor Federation
COLOR
YIMBY Denver
Immaculate Conception Social Justice Ministry
Jefferson Unitarian Church Community Action Network
United for a New Economy
Colorado Latino Forum
UFCW Local 7
Colorado Village Collective
Colorado Children’s Campaign
Jefferson County Food Policy Council
Unite North Metro Denver
Colorado Fiscal Institute
ProgressNow Colorado
NAACP Boulder County Branch
National Lawyers Guild, Colorado

Elected officials and former elected officials
State Senator Julie Gonzales
Senate President Leroy Garcia
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold
Colorado State Treasurer Dave Young
Denver City Council Member Robin Kniech
Denver School Board Director Tay Anderson
Former House Speaker and U.S. Senate Candidate Andrew Romanoff
State Representative Steven Woodrow
State Senator Steve Fenberg (Senate Majority Leader)
State Representative Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez
State Senator Tammy Story
State Representative Dominique Jackson
State Representative Mike Weissman
State Representative Monica Duran
State Representative Jonathan Singer
State Representative Brianna Titone
State Senator Robert Rodriguez
State Representative Tom Sullivan
George P. Stern
Englewood City Council Member John Stone
Aurora City Council Member Juan Marcano
Aurora City Council Member Alison Coombs
State Representative Tony Exum
State Senator Faith Winter
Denver City Council Member Jamie Torres
Denver City Council Member Amanda Sandoval
Denver City Council Member Debbie Ortega
Rev. Brad Laurvick
State Representative Adrienne Benavidez
State Representative Edie Hooton
State Representative Daneya Esgar
State Senator Rhonda Fields
State Senator Mike Foote
State Senator Kerry Donovan
Former State Senator Irene Aguilar
State Representative Emily Sirota
State Representative Yadira Caraveo
State Representative Dafna Michaelson Jenet
State Representative Tom Sullivan
State Senator Dominick Moreno
State Senator Chris Hansen
State Representative Meg Froelich
State Senator Jeff Bridges
State Representative Leslie Herod
State Representative Susan Lontine
State Senator Brittany Pettersen
Denver City Council Member Candi CdeBaca
State Representative Janet Buckner
State Representative Dylan Roberts
Denver City Council Member Amanda Sawyer
Thornton City Council Member Julia Marvin
Director, Regional Transportation District, Shontel Lewis
Chairman of the Regional Transportation District Board, Angie Rivera-Malpiede

Community Members
Noel Ginsburg
Chris Griswold
Emily Sandoval
Steven Paletz, Democratic Candidate for House District 6
Melissa C. Johnsen
Catherine Mabrey
Rebecca Grushkin
Lindsay Sandoval
Aife Duncan
Josh Scott
Nathan Lazarus
Mary Coddington
Hazel Gibson
Zack Burley
Alice Hinkeldey
Colin Hornsby
Brian Gross
Riannon C Atwater
Alex Gano
Cynthia Beard
Shari Leyshon
Katie Malzbender
Jeri Shepherd
Jessica Noffsinger
Annie Albrecht
Marisa Dirks
Kathy Smith
Amanda Hall
Keith Ohler
Judi Bodinger
Rebecca Rivas
Jesus Loayza
Mina Goldstein
Melissa Jones
Ryan Case
Ediht Escamilla
Walker Kemp
Patricia Phillips-Keller
Evelyn Hutt
Lauren Tomkinson
Rebecca Frost
Katherine Goodman
Desiree Kane
Wendy Handler
Spencer Bailey
Bonnie DeHart
Olivia Salinger
Lenora Olivas
Sue Keston
Rebecca Smith
Bryan Lindstrom
Bonnie Merenstein
Judith Landsman
Denali Cohen
Laurie Kagan
Macon Fessenden
Aria Dellepiane
Rebecca Zinnee
Bethany Thomas
Dianne Rudo
Hazel Gordon
Andrew Gilman
Mandy Blumreich
Tara Gilboa
Neha Mahajan
Sam Mackenzie
Lora Lee Himtom
Judy Lubow

About the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project

The COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project is a collaborative, community legal project with a mission to provide Coloradans facing eviction during the COVID-19 crisis with information and support across the state. Volunteer attorneys represent clients facing the immediate prospect of eviction. We’re online at: cedproject.org

We are a community org providing legal aid for people facing eviction, financial assistance for renters and landlords, and advocacy to keep tenants housed.