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Denver County Eviction Legal Defense pilot opens its doors

A new eviction legal defense pilot aimed at helping Denver residents stay in their homes opened its doors to clients today. The free legal help, provided by Colorado Legal Services and other legal providers, has two goals — help those facing eviction stay housed or reduce the barriers for evicted tenants to find future housing.  

A recent study by Colorado Center of Law and Policy, in collaboration with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, revealed some “shocking and concerning” information about evictions in Denver County Court, said Jack Regenbogen from Colorado Center on Law and Policy. “While nearly 90 percent of landlords had access to a lawyer, less than 1 percent of tenants were represented by legal counsel,” he said, adding that those who had legal representation were much more likely to prevail in the eviction proceeding or negotiate a solution to remain in their home.  

“We must stem the tide of homelessness,” said Councilman Paul Kashmann. “Having an eviction on your credit report magnifies the difficulty in finding subsequent housing, leaving the City to step in to provide shelter and related services. It can take months or years to get back on track. Legal defense in eviction cases improves the chance a renter will be able to stay in their home and reduces the financial burden on taxpayers.” Kashmann is “very proud of the unanimous commitment” to the pilot program made by all 13 members of City Council. Kashmann and his colleagues donated money from office budgets or made personal donations to help kickstart the pilot.

“As we work to build and preserve more affordable housing, helping to keep renters stably housed is the other important strategy for meeting the housing crisis in Denver,” said Councilwoman Robin Kniech, chair of the Housing and Homelessness Work Group. “I want to share my sincere thanks to the community voices who helped to elevate the importance of addressing evictions and paved the way for the collaboration that made this pilot possible.” 

“The City Council donations will help level the playing field for low-income renters,” said Jonathan Asher, executive director of Colorado Legal Services. “This project brings us closer to delivering on that foundational promise of justice for all.”

Tenants in Denver who have been served with a notice, have received court papers or have a housing problem should contact Colorado Legal Services right away to be screened for services. Colorado Legal Services will generally be able to serve households earning up to 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level based on their family size, as well as elders of any income. (Download the program flyer in English or Spanish)