Denver affordable housing (copy)

By wide margins, Colorado voters consider affordable housing difficult to find and are open to government intervention, including rent control, rental and mortgage assistance and requirements that developers dedicate a share of new construction as affordable housing, a poll released Wednesday, April 28, 2021, by Louisville-based Magellan Strategies found.   

The Denver Department of Housing Stability is expanding its capacity to provide federal rent assistance, extending and adding contracts to administer the emergency rental assistance program.

Denver’s emergency rental assistance program began in June, using nearly $50 million in federal funds to help pay rent and utilities for residents unable to make payments because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds can provide up to 15 months of assistance to households.

The expansion will add $7 million to and extend the end dates of two contracts for companies that administer the rental assistance program. It will also approve three new contracts totaling $10.68 million, using the federal funds.

City officials said the expansion will help fight the increase in evictions anticipated after the Supreme Court recently OK'd the resumption of evictions. In Denver, nearly one in eight residents are currently behind on rent, according to city data.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have worked to prevent episodes of homelessness,” said Britta Fisher, executive director of the department.

“Our community’s need is great, and these contracts position us to more quickly and effectively meet the needs for households that are struggling to make ends meet.”

The existing contracts with Brothers Redevelopment, Inc. and Northeast Denver Housing Center, Inc. will increase by $3 million and $4 million respectively, and nine months will be added to the contract lengths, for a new end date of Sept. 30, 2022.

These extensions will allow the companies to administer the rental assistance program to 995 more households, city officials said. As of last month, the contracts had served 120 households so far. Both contracts were previously set to expire on Dec. 31, 2021.

The new contracts will give $3.5 million to Jewish Family Service of Colorado, Inc., $3 million to The Salvation Army and $4.17 million to The Community Firm to administer the program until it expires. These contracts will serve 903 households total, officials said.

Program recipients must qualify for unemployment, have a reduced income or have increased financial hardships related to the pandemic. They must also be at risk of housing instability and have a household income of below 80% of the area median income, which is $73,360 for one person, according to city data.

Denver residents can apply for the rental assistance program at cdola.colorado.gov/rental-mortgage-assistance or call 1-888-480-0066 for assistance.

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