The COVID-19 pandemic triggered unprecedented eviction risk for U.S. renters. Nationwide, more than 15M people are at risk of eviction, with more than 200,000 at risk in Colorado alone. The COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project was formed in April 2020. Our mission is to Keep Coloradans Housed. We do this by helping to prevent mass evictions and homelessness. We quickly built a team of housing lawyers, economists, data analysts, policy-experts, and organizers to respond to this crisis.
With guidance from our clients—a majority of whom identify as people of color—and community partners, we launched a “continuum care” approach to eviction prevention that centers the legal and financial needs of housing-insecure families and uses a variety of tools to keep them housed. Through the following continuum of care, we are stabilizing hundreds of households per week with millions of dollars in emergency rental assistance. Our continuum of care includes:
• Rental Assistance: For the vast majority of our clients, our partners at the Colorado Stability Fund provide rental assistance and we offer negotiation services. We use public funds to pay back and future rent, reinstate leases, and avert evictions through rental debt settlements alone.
• Legal Services: For complicated cases with additional legal issues or difficult landlords, we offer eviction defense services, paired with rental assistance dollars, to encourage settlement or stabilize tenancies and represent tenants in court when negotiation does not work.
• Rehousing and Case Management: Where legal services do not work, we provide rehousing support services through ERA funding and agency referrals.
• Advocacy: More broadly, we go case to cause. We work with our clients to tell their stories and amplify their voices into policy change. In 2020, for example, we drafted and, in coalition, we passed the renters rights legislation that bans late fees, penalizes abusive landlords, and gives Coloradans access to the warranty of habitability without paying a bond.