Media Contact: Chynna Cowart
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For the past 15 months, the State of Colorado has provided emergency rental assistance to more than 30,000 households. The goal of the program was to mitigate the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on people who were at an increased risk of losing their housing due to challenges with paying rent, as many people found their jobs eliminated or paused.
This temporary short-term emergency program kept people housed, and allowed property owners to catch up on their mortgages. Colorado’s strong recovery, including a 3.5% unemployment rate, makes it possible to begin phasing out the emergency response. Currently, the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) has committed or spent 65% of the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program funding allocated to the State. The ERA program was created with federal funds as an emergency response to the pandemic, and will now move into the wrap-up and stabilization phases, with a focus on assisting Coloradans with pivoting to long-term solutions.
Beginning July 1, 2022, eligible households may now only receive up to one additional round of assistance, so long as funds are available and households have not already reached their 18-month maximum. This is to ensure every eligible Coloradan who applies while funding is available is able to receive some assistance. For this reason, DOLA is encouraging emergency rental assistance recipients to plan for the end of this temporary, pandemic-related assistance.
While funds are available, DOLA is still reviewing and processing both returning and new applications - prioritizing households who:
- Have received eviction notices (and these notices have been provided);
- are at or below 50% Area Median Income (AMI);
- or, where one or more household members were unemployed for at least 90 days leading up to the date of application (and adequate documentation has been provided).
The application portal remains open at this time. We encourage Coloradans who have not yet applied for emergency rental assistance or received it to do so as soon as possible. As long as the household has not yet reached its 18-month maximum, eligible households will be eligible for one more recertification (i.e., up to another 3 months of rental assistance).
From today on, each household will be eligible for only one additional recertification. As the program begins to wind down, we will close the application portal. At this time, we anticipate the portal will close in late summer or early fall, depending upon funding availability and volume of applications. Therefore, it is advised that households apply as soon as possible.
It is important to note that the larger counties or cities of Colorado (e.g, with a population of at least 200,000) received their own emergency rental assistance allocations from the US Treasury. However, each locality allocated its funds at different rates. If the application portal for a jurisdiction/county is open, applications are still being accepted. Tenants and landlords will not be able to receive additional funds if their area is not listed or if it is listed as a "closed" jurisdiction.
“As we close out this temporarily funded program, DOLA’s statewide partners will work with Colorado tenants one-on-one to help them to plan for housing security. Our nonprofit partners across the state are hiring professionals who will work directly with households to properly identify and address their specific needs.” said Sarah Buss, Housing Recovery Director.
DOLA has the goal of sustainable, focused response when it comes to recovery and housing stability across the state of Colorado. In the stabilization phase of the Emergency Rental Assistance program, DOLA will work to identify at-risk households. Our work will be redirected to work one-on-one with Colorado households whose needs exceed what the Emergency Rental Assistance program can provide. However, it is important to keep in mind that once Colorado and the local state/counties have exhausted their federal ERA program funds, the majority of Colorado tenants will not have access to these rental assistance resources.
As funding for this federal program is phasing out nationwide, DOLA will continue with eviction diversion efforts, including prioritizing imminent eviction cases and connecting tenants to legal services. Additionally, tenants will be able to receive one-on-one support through an enhanced Customer Care Center that is under development and our network of Housing Stability Specialists, who will work with households to help identify wrap-around resources, plan for self-reliance, and provide warm connections to “safety-net hubs” within their communities.
The Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) is narrowing our focus on aid efforts to those areas where we can have lasting impact as we emerge from the pandemic and our emergency response begins to wind down.
The economic and social impacts of the pandemic have exacerbated housing insecurity for many Coloradans throughout the state and shown a light on the shortage of affordable housing. With the ongoing goal of best serving Coloradans, DOLA plans on working closely with its nonprofit and national contractor partners. It remains our primary concern to keep people housed, and ensure any experience of homelessness is rare and brief when it occurs, and no one gets left behind.
The State of Colorado has a housing-first approach, and increasing Colorado’s affordable housing stock will help in finding long-term solutions for Coloradans facing eviction or homelessness. This approach employs crisis intervention, rapid access to housing, follow-up case management, and support services to prevent the recurrence of homelessness.
The Department of Local Affair’s Division of Housing (DOH) places a high priority on housing stability. In less than a year, DOH has provided project funding of more than $160 million, leveraging more than $825 million in other private resources for the development of housing. These investments not only create new homes for Coloradans, but these investments also are economic drivers in our communities generating revenue through construction and through ongoing new commerce.
“Housing stability is a foundation for ensuring the health and wellness of an individual and community. When someone achieves housing stability they focus their attention on other things that promote self-sufficiency like healthcare, education, and finding and maintaining employment,” said Rick Garcia, Executive Director at the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA).
For more information about the wrap-up and stabilization phases of Colorado’s Emergency Rental Assistance program.