Colorado’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program Has Processed Over 90,000 Applications For Households Across the State

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The Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) provides assistance to renters and landlords impacted by COVID-19. 

The COVID-19 pandemic struck many sectors of our economy and disrupted the lives of Colorado’s most vulnerable residents. 

Early in the pandemic, public health orders directed all workers except for those deemed essential to remain at home. The state enacted these measures without knowing exactly how long these orders would last or what the full financial impacts would be. Workers in restaurants, taverns, retail, service industries, and offices were disproportionately affected and many stopped receiving their paychecks.
The reality that thousands of Coloradans live paycheck to paycheck quickly hit home, and many found themselves needing help in order to pay housing costs.

“Keeping Coloradans housed is one of the ultimate goals of the Department of Local Affairs. The Emergency Rental Assistance program has been a direct, fundamental benefit to Colorado families by enabling them to afford stable housing. We recognize that the inability to afford housing is a key contributor to the increase in homelessness in today's society, which is why programs like these remain crucial,” said Rick Garcia, Executive Director.

What originally began as $3M through Executive Order 12 of Governor-appropriated emergency funding has since surpassed hundreds of millions of dollars in emergency housing payments to over 45,000 Colorado households. Emergency rental assistance has helped to keep our state’s most vulnerable people safe and housed during an unprecedented public health threat, and continues to be a critical support as our community begins to rebuild and recover from the pandemic.

A recent report shows that four out of 10 Americans would struggle to pay for an unexpected $400 expense, putting them at risk of losing their housing, and many renters already struggle with basic needs. Renters, low-income workers, and landlords have been impacted in a variety of ways due to Coronavirus. By offering temporary rental assistance, the economic ripple effects of the pandemic are reduced. Keeping Coloradans housed is the state's ultimate objective. Tenants who have been unable to pay rent due to financial hardship caused by COVID-19 may be eligible for temporary rental assistance from their county or the State. The Colorado Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) can help cover rent as far back as April 2020. Help can include past due, current, and two additional months of rent up to a maximum of 15 months of assistance. The landlord or the tenant can start the application process, but receiving assistance requires documentation from both the tenant and the landlord.

Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households

The Program provides rental assistance on behalf of qualifying renter households to prevent housing instability, potential eviction, and financial hardships for tenants and landlords as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Impact Of Assistance

From the start of the pandemic to now, the State has processed over 90,000 applications awarding more than $229M in housing assistance. 

“It is intended to be an emergency response — so as long as demand is there and so long as funding remains available for that emergency response, then we will continue administering the funds out the door as quickly as we can — to keep people housed,” said Alison George, Division Director of the DOLA’s Division of Housing.

As a result of the ERA, Colorado has provided rental and utility assistance to thousands of households during the pandemic and recovery. Through its network of service providers and partners, DOLA has been able to simultaneously process an average of 4,000 requests for assistance per month while also providing supportive services. To ensure that Coloradans who are now facing possible eviction have access to assistance, DOLA has and will continue to utilize all of the resources available. With ERA, DOLA has been able to provide services to Coloradans with lower incomes, and support other jurisdictions as well. Throughout the program, fewer households have been evicted and more households have the opportunity to achieve housing stability.

Milestones Along the Way

Improving Website Access and Services

In May of 2021, The Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) Division of Housing (DOH) published a new website to simplify obtaining emergency rental assistance as well as homeowner relief. This made it easier for new and returning applicants to complete the process and get the help they need. The website now acts as a one-stop service, providing information about ERAP.  Simplifying the application process for tenants and landlords was critical to reducing the time it took to review applications, and applicants had fewer missing documents and errors to manage.

Faster Payment Processing

In order to launch the program as quickly as possible, and support Coloradans facing hardship, the Division of Housing utilized the state’s payment system, which was not designed for high volume payment processes to individuals. Starting in August of 2021, the State’s contractor began processing payments for approved applications using a third party payment processing company, is a payment software that uses bank-level security, firewalls, and encryption on any sensitive or personal data. This payment processor specializes in sending ePayments and checks to the needed destination. Switching to this service significantly reduced the amount of time applicants spent waiting for checks to arrive, and in some cases payments were able to be distributed within 48 hours.  

“The ERA program continues to experience high demand, and we are implementing improvements every day to make the program more efficient and customer friendly,” Dionne Stroter, Deputy Executive Director. Since rolling out the payment portal in August, DOLA has paid more than $197M in assistance, and are currently averaging about $2M in payments per week through

Preventing Eviction

Since the end of the temporary eviction moratorium last August, Colorado has experienced a significant increase in rental assistance applications. Access to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program has been a key factor in keeping evictions in Colorado lower than they were before the pandemic. Estimated eviction filings in Colorado were 40% below pre-pandemic averages in 2021, and 15% in March 2022. A recent study by Princeton University's Eviction Lab estimates that 1.36 million renters avoided eviction in 2021 as a result of the government's unprecedented $46.5 billion rent relief program.

Preliminary Analysis: Eviction Filing Patterns in 2021

Estimated Eviction Filings in Colorado by Year, Colorado Judicial Branch


Estimated Number of Eviction Filings







2022 (through Apr 18, 2022)


Despite the serious economic constraints many Coloradans have experienced due to the pandemic, eviction rates across the state remain consistently lower than before the pandemic.  

Focusing the Lens on Housing Stability

While funding remains available, tenants and landlords can apply for emergency rental assistance at As we emerge from the pandemic, and our emergency response begins to wind down, we are narrowing our focus of assistance to aid those where we have lasting impact for the next phase of long-term recovery for Colorado. 

The economic and social impacts of living through a pandemic have shone a light on the lack of affordable housing and housing instability in Colorado. DOLA has plans to continue to collaborate with its administrative partners, both nonprofit and national contractors, with the ongoing goal to best meet the needs of the Coloradans served. Keeping people housed throughout the pandemic and recovery remains our ultimate focus.

With the State’s increase in dedicated funding for affordable housing, DOLA is pleased to report that nearly 1,800 units have been completed or rehabbed since last summer in 27 projects. Additionally, DOLA has awarded funding for 110 projects across Colorado, consequently adding over 6,800 units that will start construction soon. 

The State of Colorado has four strategic goals to aid Coloradans in having a safe, stable and affordable place to live. DOLA is hopeful that together, in partnership with local communities, we can create a future where homelessness is rare and brief when it occurs, and no one gets left behind. These goals are to: 

  • Stop homelessness before it starts; 
  • Identify individuals at risk and ensure they’re safe; 
  • Connect people with supports to quickly exit homelessness; and 
  • Create long term structural solutions.

Helping those experiencing homelessness find stable, secure, and affordable housing as soon as possible provides a foundation to effectively tackle other challenges and opportunities they face.

Local accomplishments such as, Arroyo Village (a 130-unit development), the Delores Project (a 95 units of workforce housing, 35 units of supportive housing, and an 11,000 sq ft emergency shelter), the Anvil Mountain Apartments (a 12-unit affordable housing development) add to our goal of providing housing stability to Coloradans across the state.

“Housing is foundational to someone improving their well-being,” said Kristin Toombs, Director of the Office of Homelessness Initiatives in the Colorado Department of Housing. 

And with more projects on the horizon, such as Robinson Place, Pinion Park Norwood, and Crosswinds At Arista, DOLA remains dedicated to keeping Coloradans housed.

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