Opinion: Coloradans facing threat of eviction, foreclosure cry out for relief
Despite Gov. Polis’ forceful encouragement to local governments, county courts and landlords to halt evictions, tenants still are getting threats to pay now or get out!
It’s no wonder people are clamoring for rent strikes, mortgage forbearance and other measures.
Coloradans for the Common Good (CCG), a broad-based, nonpartisan organizing strategy with member congregations, unions and civic organizations, is demanding an immediate statewide moratorium on evictions and a long-term plan to help the housing industry get back on its feet.
With roughly half of all tenants renting from small landlords, who own one to 10 units, freezing or forgiving rent means mom and pop landlords are at risk of foreclosure.
Without a long-term solution in place, we will see landlords demanding rent and a tsunami of evictions once a moratorium is lifted.
To address the underlying issues, clergy and civic leaders working with CCG are asking banks, credit unions and landlord associations to join us in crafting solutions that are effective, collaborative and just.
We recognize that some banks are offering options to restructure loans; that many homeowners qualify for relief from their federally backed mortgages; that many landlords are working in good faith with tenants to avoid evictions.
However, the fear and anxiety spreading through our communities indicate that the current measures are not enough.
States such as California and New Jersey have brought major lenders together to forge a unified message. We could do even better in Colorado. We propose broad coalition of lenders and landlord associations, state government and civic organizations that would craft a clear, coordinated strategy that ensures all tenants, homeowners, small businesses, nonprofits and congregations can afford their rent and mortgage payments.
Taxpayers bailed out financial institutions in 2008. So, banks are in a strong financial position to help lead the solution now. If landlords are given help with their mortgages, they in turn must help their tenants.
It’s evident we do not have a comprehensive strategy to address the mounting housing crisis. Tenants who have lost their income will not be able to pay several months’ rent when the crisis subsides, even with the very limited federal CARES Act cash assistance. This is especially true for those who are not eligible for CARES aid.
Eviction moratoria give tenants a breather, but their bills will come due soon. And if they can’t pay when the crisis subsides, evictions will be followed by foreclosures of rental units.
We are beginning to explore policy solutions including:
- Offering renegotiated terms for mortgage holders, deferring payments now by extending the term of the loan, as some lenders have done
- Deferring landlord mortgage payments to put them in a better position to help their tenants
- Expanding the benefits of the CARES Act to provide some relief for non-federally backed mortgage holders who make up a significant portion of homeowners
- Providing materials that are clear and easy to understand in multiple languages to landlords and tenants that explain the benefits and opportunities available to them through the CARES Act and local assistance
Many of our members have recently been observing Passover and Holy Week, a sacred time to reflect on sacrifice and liberation. This is a time when everyone has been asked to sacrifice.
We stand in solidarity with those most harmed by the rent and mortgage crisis. We invite the leaders of the financial institutions in Colorado to join us to seek just and workable solutions.
Rev. John Anderson is Pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Arvada; Fr. Dan Norick is Pastor of Ascension Catholic Church in Montbello; and Marilyn Winokur is Board Chair of Coloradans for the Common Good and a member of B’nai Havurah Denver Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation.
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