Did you "shelter in place" this spring? Probably not for long if the threat of eviction was looming. And not at all if there was no place to call home to begin with.
It was one of the troubling ironies of the pandemic of 2020: Authorities closed businesses, offices and other places of employment — along with schools and other community institutions — ordering people to stay home to stem the spread of COVID-19. Many whose jobs didn't allow for virtual officing found themselves out of work. Even with special programs in place to ease household cash flow, bills including rent and mortgage payments began to pile up, raising doubts about how much longer they could "state at home."
But just how widespread has the problem actually been? How many Coloradans, particularly in the Denver area, have faced — or still face — uncertainty about the future of their housing?
And what about the homeless, whose ranks are said to have swelled from the same COVID-induced economic upheaval?
Meanwhile, what policies have been needed to ease the crunch, which continues for some amid an ongoing pandemic and its collateral damage to small businesses and other employers?
In today's Roundtable, we put some of those questions to wide-ranging stakeholders in the housing debate; read their responses below.
Not surprisingly, they didn't agree on all the answers. Not even on the scale of the problems — particularly the magnitude of evictions due to COVID.
Carmen Medrano of United For A New Economy notes that over a third of Colorado residents are renters; over a third of those, she contends, are "at risk of eviction."
Yet, the Colorado Apartment Association's Drew Hamrick writes that there essentially is no eviction "tsunami" in the first place — that there never has been and won't be throughout Colorado's bout with COVID — and he offers some compelling figures to back up his point. Evictions, if anything, have been below the normal rate, he says, and he argues that far-reaching measures like government-imposed eviction moratoriums are "a solution looking for a problem."
Is there a crisis in which Denver-area renters are being turned out of their apartments, or isn't there? Read on, and decide for yourself.
Take in, as well, an overview by Cathy Alderman of the Colorado Coaltion for the Homesless, offering daunting data on the homeless population and the challenges it faces. The Colorado Center on Law and Policy's Jack Regenbogen makes a point-by-point call for state action to head off evictions while the Denver Metro Association of REALTORS' Peter Wall says society must address racial and other inequality in the housing market.
Meanwhile, Chérie Talbert, representing the Denver-area homebuilding industry, offers a perspective some if not many will find reassuring — that builders have been building nonstop even as they cope with, and adjust to the virus. Meaning, more housing — and jobs.