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New apartment buildings on Welton Street.
New apartment buildings on Welton Street.
Evan Semon

Op-Ed: Now Is the Time for All Coloradans to Work Together

It was disappointing to read the recent op-ed in Westword claiming that the Colorado Apartment Association  does not speak for all Coloradans. The association represents over 3,000 members who own and/or manage over 300,000 apartment homes, which totals more than $88 billion in assets. Together with the local affiliates, the National Multifamily Housing Council and the National Apartment Association, CAA offers a strong network of information, education and representation for the multi-family housing industry. Contrary to the article’s claims, CAA represents 75 percent of the rental housing market in Colorado and has the data and numbers to justify reports released.

While Desiree Kane and Ean Tafoya, the authors of “Colorado Apartment Association Does Not Speak for All Colorado,” are entitled to their own opinion, they are not entitled to their own set of facts. CAA polls its members, as does the NAA and the NMHC, and shares the data with the public as data baseline for where Colorado is in comparison to national numbers when it comes to rent payments collected.

Just as Colorado continues to require payment for other living essentials, such as groceries, housing is no exception. Canceling rent or canceling mortgages is not the answer for COVID-19-impacted residents, and would ultimately cause another housing crisis that worsens the economic conditions and welfare for all Coloradans.

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For situational awareness, approximately 40 percent of rent payments are used to cover mortgages; the remaining 60 percent is used for other expenses such as property taxes, employee payroll, vendor payments, facility maintenance and repairs, and more. A rent or mortgage freeze would prevent housing providers from maintaining their units, paying their employees, paying vendors, etc., thus threatening the livelihood of Colorado residents even further. Contrary to the claims made in the op-ed, there are many small housing providers in Colorado who cannot afford to maintain operations without rent payments. Additionally, hundreds of industry employees, including maintenance professionals and service providers, would risk losing their jobs with such an extreme response. They have families to support, too.

Colorado housing providers are working with residents on payment plans, rent deferrals and other solutions for residents who have been impacted by COVID-19. Less than 3 percent of Colorado residents have requested a payment plan. Additionally, CAA and its members have partnered with the Resident Relief Foundation to raise funds for residents here in Colorado. It is one of many financial aid outlets that is available to residents. CAA’s COVID-19 Resource Center lists over 100 county-specific resources to help residents impacted by COVID-19 job or income loss. Fortunately, the low response to payment plans is likely because over 95 percent of Coloradans paid rent in May, an increase from April.

This pandemic is an opportunity for all Coloradans to work together, especially residents and housing providers. Rent strike groups are not the solution, and are creating unnecessary division during a time when we most need each other.

Terry Simone is the president of the Colorado Apartment Association.

Westword occasionally publishes op-eds on matters of interest to the Denver community. If you have one you'd like to submit, send it to editorial@westword.com, where you can also respond to this piece. Or just post a comment below.

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