Colorado lawmakers have allocated nearly $20 million in funding from the federal CARES Act to help residents with emergency rental assistance. The Property Ownership Preservation Program came out of House Bill 1410, which was passed in late June to help Coloradans with COVID-19-related housing assistance; it earmarked $19,650,000 for the Housing Development Grant Fund, administered by the Division of Housing within the state Department of Local Affairs.
“This has been an incredibly challenging time for many Coloradans,” Governor Jared Polis said in a release announcing the launch of the program on July 17. “I want to thank the legislators who worked on this bill and applaud them for their efforts. This fund will help Coloradans who have been financially impacted by the pandemic and need rent assistance. This pandemic is far from over, and we will continue working to do everything we can to help provide some relief to those who have been significantly impacted. We are all in this together, and we will get through this together.”
The program provides rental assistance and mortgage assistance, as well as guidance on how to access other housing services, to Coloradans struggling to pay housing costs during the pandemic. State Representative Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, one of the prime sponsors, points out that it provides universal benefits to all people struggling with the housing crisis — tenants, homeowners and landlords alike.
Under the program, landlords and property owners can seek payment for eligible tenants in arrears who have experienced financial need since March 1, 2020, and havenot received other pandemic-related housing assistance from the state. “It’s great, because it allows people who may not feel comfortable applying for government-based resources to not have to, because their landlords can apply on their behalf,” Gonzales-Gutierrez says.
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“While the majority of renters and homeowners have continued to make rental and mortgage payments, there are thousands of households that have been unable to do so due to the economic impacts of COVID-19,” Rick Garcia, executive director of DOLA, noted in the release. “The POP program will allow for landlords to apply for assistance on behalf of tenants and help with Colorado’s housing stability.”
Researchers at the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project predict that by September, Coloradans living in 181,000 households could be at risk of eviction. They predict that the biggest wave of evictions will come at the end of July, when expanded unemployment benefits end — and while $20 million is a start, it won't solve the entire problem.
“Before COVID, we knew there were issues," says Gonzales-Gutierrez. "People are and will only be more vulnerable in the coming months. This is only a drop in the bucket. It is nowhere near enough.”
Learn more about the Property Ownership Preservation Program here.