With plenty of CARES Act funding for rental assistance still left in Aurora's coffers, city officials are once again accepting applications from residents who have been hit financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We’re hoping by giving people two months of rent, we’re buying them some time to find other employment or be able to save up to pay the next month," says Jessica Prosser, Aurora's manager of community development.
In the first round of the rental-assistance application process, which opened in May, the fund helped about145 households cover rent.
"The average amount that we were spending was covering two months of rent, and it was around $2,500 for each household," says Prosser, noting that the city doled out approximately $400,000 during that first round.
Now, with over $2.5 million in CARES Act dollars that the City of Aurora dedicated to emergency rental relief, the fund, which just reopened for applications on August 10, will be able to help around 1,000 more households with two months of rent.
"The message is, we have money to spend. The money that we’re using is CARES Act funding that has to be spent by the end of the year," says Prosser, adding, "We’ll keep applications open until we feel that we have enough applications to spend through the money."
The rental-assistance program is only available to renters, and not those with mortgages. Anyone thinking about applying for the funding must have an active lease in Aurora, demonstrate a COVID-19-related financial hardship, meet income guidelines (100 percent area median income or less), and not receive public-housing support vouchers. Those who received rental relief in the earlier rounds of the program cannot reapply.
Denver has a similar program to help its residents. Right now, that program and ones in Aurora and other municipalities are filling a key need, as Congress still hasn't gotten its act together to pass a second stimulus package during the pandemic.
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At the state level, on August 10, Governor Jared Polis extended for a month a previous executive order that requires landlords to give tenants thirty days' notice, rather than the usual ten, when a tenant has defaulted on payment before beginning the eviction process. During that thirty-day time frame, a tenant can fix any default on payment that they've had.
But while governors in other states have enacted eviction moratoriums, Governor Polis has chosen not to reenact the moratorium that he put in place earlier in the pandemic.
And within that context of a looming wave of evictions, 27.5 percent of Colorado renters have little or no confidence that they can pay rent next month, according to a recent analysis by researchers at the Colorado COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project.