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Colorado Apartment Association says eviction filings not as high as expected in September

According to the Colorado Apartment Association, there were 2,498 eviction actions filed across Colorado in September of this year.

DENVER — According to the Colorado Apartment Association, there were 2,498 eviction actions filed across all of Colorado in September. 

In an interview with 9NEWS, Drew Hamrick, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for the association, said there were 3,768 evictions filed in September 2019 (before the pandemic). That mean's last month's number was 66.3% of the pre-pandemic level.

September was the first month after eviction moratoriums expired, and Hamrick said the numbers are a good sign for the future. 

"There's a lot of public money that's out there for rental assistance. So folks that are having difficulty making their rental payment have lots of resources they can call on during the last year and a half," Hamrick said. "Housing providers and residents have found lots of different ways to try to work out payment glitches and keep people housed."

Credit: Taylor Schuss

The September trend leads Hamrick to believe that in the months ahead, the filings may not rise. 

"Now, remember, the eviction process takes about three months. So the filings of lawsuits in September are really talking about a small percentage of those that will turn into physical evictions three months down the road," he said. "But from the state numbers, you and I can say with certainty that over the next three months that physical evictions will be at record low levels."

Overall, he said, the addition of new housing units would help lower the rent costs, which could help renters in the long run.

"When rental prices rise or the price of purchasing a home rise, that's a direct measurement that there are limitations that are keeping new units from coming out of the ground. And those limitations, a lot of them are good ideas, but when you add them all up, it makes it darn difficult to house someone in the state," he said. 

The U.S. Census Bureau has also been tracking numbers through their Household Pulse Survey. They found that 68,417 Coloradans were at risk of future eviction or foreclosure. The report notes that the margin of error is 19%. 

Zach Neumann, Executive Director of the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project, said they've recently seen more people reaching out to them for help, particularly in the last several weeks. 

"We're seeing a large number of clients come through the door who are pre eviction filings, so they've gotten a demand or a notice on their door and they're trying to navigate rental assistance. And so the number one thing we're doing right now is helping clients get access to rental assistance," he said, adding that they'll also help clients with access to legal assistance if needed. 

While they acknowledge that more rental assistance is being approved, they think it's the number of approved payments that speak to the number of people struggling to make rent. 

"We're seeing a lot of demands and a lot of notices, and again, I think really where we're seeing the risk play out is the large number of people who are raising their hands and saying, 'Look, I'm behind on my rent. I can't pay. I need access to emergency rental assistance right now,'" he said.

Neumann said the interactions between tenants and landlords have run across the board. 

"I think some landlords are being really patient and they're saying ‘you've been behind, but I know the money's there. I can wait a few more months.’ I think other landlords are saying, ‘Look, I'm in a lot of pain. I've had to wait a really long time. I just can't do this anymore.’ And then I think you see situations where tenants say, ‘Look, this is really scary. I don't want to wait any longer. I don't want to have an eviction on my record,’ and they're just moving out," he said. 

As far as what's ahead, Neumann said he believes the number of evictions will be tied directly to how quickly emergency rental assistance money moves. 

According to the state's dashboard that tracks rental assistance, 44,680 rental assistance applications have been approved since the start of the pandemic, 14,656 have been denied, 1,741 have been submitted but are listed as "outstanding," 1,914 were under review, and 3,739 were reviewed but have missing information. 

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