As the Denver Post’s Alex Burness reports, Gov. Jared Polis took action yesterday to extend the limited protections that have been in place giving renters in Colorado more notice of impending eviction proceedings–short of the full eviction moratorium affordable housing and civil rights advocates are calling for, and as a result not pacifying the growing discontent on Polis’ left over the issue:
Gov. Jared Polis has extended an executive order that requires that Colorado landlords must, for at least one more month, give tenants 30 days’ notice before pursuing evictions.
The normal rule requires only 10 days’ notice. Vulnerable tenants deserve a little extra wiggle room now, Polis wrote in his extension, because, “many Coloradans continue to experience substantial loss of income as a result of business closures and layoffs, hindering their ability to keep up with their rent payments through no fault of their own.”
…The order does not prevent evictions. They have restarted in most of the state, though eviction defense advocates and some Democratic lawmakers continue to push Polis to temporarily ban them. He’s resisted those calls because, he told reporters recently, he believes people should generally be back at work and thus able to cover rent.
So far, the large wave of evictions that experts do expect will inevitably result from the economic disruption of the spring and summer has not materialized. A major factor in this delayed pain is the extended unemployment benefits unemployed workers have received since the passage of the CARES Act in March, which expired at the end of July and are set to be cut by at least one-third after Donald Trump’s actions this weekend–along with the $1,200 per person stimulus checks most taxpayers have by now received and long spent.
Gov. Polis’ management of the crisis faced by renters in this state reflects an attempt to hit a “moving target” of minimal disruption–meaning property owners can still control their properties–while trying to slow down evictions for nonpayment of rent for as long as needed to allow renters to recover and meet their obligations. This strategy depends, among other variables, on the federal government continuing to provide the economic stimulus that has kept American households going since March–and for the economy to recover rapidly enough for paycheck-to-paycheck workers to get their already-behind balance sheets current. Nuanced management of the problem and taking sweeping action only when necessary has characterized Polis’ leadership throughout the COVID-19 pandemic–and while it’s not as satisfying as headline-making executive orders, the outcome so far suggests that it has worked.
But as we’re seeing today in D.C.’s chaos over the next round of stimulus, this calculation is not without risk. If the wave of evictions that everyone agrees is looming can be staved off long enough, in theory the net effects can be mitigated by recovery and aggressive assistance. In the end, however, success depends in part on factors that Gov. Polis doesn’t control.
We hope enough things go right that Polis’ “just in time” strategy doesn’t go wrong.