As the federal eviction moratorium expiration draws near, Summit County experts are worried for what’s to come
‘This community cannot afford to lose another working family’
There’s already a significant labor shortage within Summit County, and the issue could get worse: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium is set to expire July 31, meaning many who have suffered from financial hardships due to the pandemic will no longer be protected from getting evicted.
The situation is compounded by the county’s lack of affordable and available housing. If these individuals cannot find other places to live, they will either become homeless or leave the community altogether. This series of issues is concerning local experts, who believe the labor shortage is already at a breaking point for the community.
“I think that this community cannot afford to lose another working family, not one more,” said Brianne Snow, executive director of the Family & Intercultural Resource Center. “I have great concerns that this could impact our workforce and the families that have given their time and their resources and their energy to making Summit County the best place to live. So yes, I’m very worried.”
All throughout the pandemic, the resource center has provided much-needed assistance to families and individuals with some of the programming focused on keeping people in their homes. On average, Snow said the center assists about 120 households avoid eviction annually and that the number jumped to just over 2,400 households since March 2020.
Snow said the federal eviction moratorium gave the resource center more time to work with clients and put them on a stable path.
“They just had no income when the community was shut down, so they were unable to pay their rent, or in some cases their mortgages, and the fact that they were not able to be evicted during that time gave us time to work with them and get them the services they needed and then get their landlords or their banks paid,” Snow said.
Rob Murphy, executive director of the Summit Combined Housing Authority, said the ending of the federal moratorium creates a “perfect storm” of issues that make it difficult for those in the local workforce to get ahead.
“Up to 80% of area median income, that is the range in which there is the greatest demand for affordable rental units and people earning within that range,” Murphy said.
For a family of four, 80% of area median income is $76,880. For a single person, it’s $53,840.
“That is a large chunk of our workforce, and it includes a lot of people in the service and hospitality industry, among others,” Murphy said. “Those are also the workers that were among the most likely to be negatively affected by the pandemic in terms of loss of hours, loss of wages, loss of a job. So it’s kind of a perfect storm of challenging circumstances for a lot of our local workforce.”
As the moratorium expiration date draws near, Snow said she and her team are in constant communication with anyone who might come into contact with individuals who are at risk of getting evicted or are still struggling from financial hardships related to the pandemic.
Snow noted the resource center offers comprehensive services that include rental assistance as well as resources that focus on parenting, mental health, medical and dental services, energy and utility assistance, food and more.
The resource center has two tracts related to housing assistance. The first is funded by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and focuses on individuals who have not been able to make payments because of pandemic-related reasons.
Since March of last year, Snow said the average monthly assistance payment per household is $1,334 and that the center has distributed $3.24 million of the department’s funding. Snow said the center still has $33,968 left, plus other discretionary funds.
The second program is focused on paying for ancillaries, like food, energy and utilities, child care and more. Snow said the goal of this program is to get these types of expenses taken care of so that individuals can focus on paying their rent or mortgage.
Snow noted that it’s not just the resource center that is offering assistance to help families and individuals in need. Applying for child care scholarships through Early Childhood Options, taking advantage of community dinners hosted by local churches and reaching out to Summit County’s Human Services department are all ways individuals could obtain assistance so that more of their budget can be spent on housing.
“Ultimately, we’re all working together in various ways to try to take off the burden,” Snow said.
While these programs are useful, Snow said it’s not just the cost of housing that provides a barrier to community members.
“There’s a glaringly obvious piece that it’s not just the cost of rent anymore. It’s not just the price,” Snow said. “It really has everything to do with inventory and not necessarily having those homes available for people to live in. And so there’s just a lot that we do as a community — that word-of-mouth — to try to secure, if we hear of a house coming open to rent, to really make sure that it goes to a neighbor that’s in need of housing that’s leaving the community.”
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