Time is running out on Colorado’s rent assistance program

Thousands of Colorado households — and their landlords — benefited from the $690 million in federal Emergency Rental Assistance. The state’s application portal closes Nov. 15.

Tamara Chuang
Colorado Sun
Apartment units are seen in Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood on Tuesday, June 15, 2021.
Olivia Sun/Colorado Sun

A program that paid up to 15 months of rent on behalf of Coloradans who struggled financially during the pandemic closes to newcomers on Nov. 15. But it’s not over just yet.

Some of Colorado’s share of the federal Emergency Rental Assistance program remains unspent. Those who apply by the deadline will be vetted and if they’re eligible, may receive financial help, like the more than 36,000 Colorado households that have already benefited, according to the state’s Department of Local Affairs, which oversees the program. Federal aid also remains available in some parts of the state, though it all will likely run out in 2023.

“The Colorado Emergency Rental Assistance Program has always been a federally funded, temporary, short-term program to alleviate the impacts of rental and utility hardships throughout the pandemic and recovery,” said Melissa Nereson, DOLA’s housing recovery manager. “After the temporary funding for this program ends, (DOLA’s) statewide partners will assist Colorado tenants in planning for housing security one on one.”

The funding came from two congressional relief acts passed during the pandemic. Colorado’s allocation was about $690 million for emergency rental assistance. That was split between DOLA and 11 cities and counties with more than 200,000 residents. 

As of this week, DOLA said it has handled applications for residents statewide and received $461.9 million in federal ERA funds, which includes El Paso County’s share since the county didn’t set up its own rental assistance program. The agency has so far distributed $300 million of that amount in rent and utility assistance. The total amount will be distributed until it runs out, Nereson said. The data is being updated and will be shared publicly in the future.


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