Free Advocate for Evicted Residents Passes First Vote on Denver Metropolis Council | authorities
An ordinance giving income-earning residents free legal representation on evictions has come a step closer to realization after passing the first full vote in Denver city council on Monday.
In the event of a farewell, tenants facing eviction who earn less than 80% of the region’s median income are entitled to free legal representation. Landlords would also have to give tenants a copy of their rights and legal representation when they move in and when a landlord requests eviction.
This proposal comes as the national eviction moratorium expires by the end of next month, paving the way for the eviction of tenants unable to pay rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite federal and state eviction moratoriums, Denver had nearly 4,000 evictions filed in 2020, 90% of which resulted in the eviction of tenants. In these cases, 95% of landlords had legal counsel while only 1% of renters did, according to Denver County Court data.
“This is part of a comprehensive effort to keep people in their homes,” Councilor Candi CdeBaca, who supported the measure, said during a committee meeting. “The court speaks a different language than your average person and gives someone this access regardless of their origin. The situation is critical.”
This plan builds on the pilot program launched in 2018 to evacuate Denver. The program has represented over 1,000 renters, 70% of whom moved out without making the eviction on record and 28% kept their home through methods such as setting up a payment plan.
This regulation would expand the pilot program, provide additional financial and human resources and increase the public’s knowledge of the representation resource and its access.
The eviction lawsuit would cost $ 4 million annually in public relations, education, evictions and personnel; However, the ordinance’s co-sponsor Amanda Sawyer said the program would save the city money by preventing residents from becoming homeless.
According to 2012 city data, every homeless person in Denver costs the city $ 26,000 annually in aid programs and law enforcement actions. If 3 to 5% of tenants represented by the evictions avoid homelessness, the city would save nearly $ 12 million each year.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, Denver was already in the midst of a housing crisis, with a record 4,000 homeless in the city and others hit by high rents, according to the city.
The ordinance must now undergo a final full vote in the city council in the coming week. If approved, the project would take effect on September 1st.