Organizations that provide eviction legal assistance to indigent clients may apply to receive grant funding from the Colorado Judicial Department, one year after the legislature established the program.
“Grants will be awarded based on a formula which considers factors including number of clients served in the past year and the location of service,” the department announced. “For Fiscal Year 2021, $600,000 is available for grants.”
In 2019, Senate Bill 180 created the Eviction Legal Defense Fund and appropriated $750,000 for the first year. A bill from this year's session would have augmented the fund by implementing a $30 fee each time a landlord performed a forcible entry and detainer action to evict a tenant. The measure would have raised $1.2 million in the 2021-2022 fiscal year, but the House Committee on Finance killed it.
Groups that receive money from the fund must use it to assist persons who earn below 200% of the federal poverty level. The state will give preference to funding organizations that provide services at no cost, as opposed to low cost. Applications are due by July 27.
Eviction Lab, a project at Princeton University, found that in 2016 Colorado had nearly 50 evictions per day, slightly above the national average. Low-income women of color and domestic violence victims are at an elevated risk of eviction, the organization notes. An eviction occurs when a landlord is able to bar someone from their property, and does not include tenants who leave voluntarily to avoid legal proceedings.