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There’s legal help on the way for Denverites facing eviction

Author: Adam McCoy - June 14, 2018 - Updated: June 14, 2018

(Photo by boonchai wedmakawand, istockphoto)

Denverites under the threat of eviction have a new resource to turn to for legal help.

An eviction legal defense pilot program opened its doors Wednesday, offering free aid to those who have been served a notice or received court papers. The Colorado Legal Services, which coordinates the program, said it will provide legal services to residents earning up to 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level based on their family size, as well as elders of any income.

“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,” City Councilwoman Robin Kniech said in a statement.

Underscoring the need for the defense program, the city has pointed to research by the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, and the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, that discovered “shocking and concerning” details about evictions in Denver County Court and a disparity between the level of legal representation afforded tenants and that which is available to landlords.

The research found while tenants are represented by an attorney in less than 1 percent of the cases involving major landlords, landlords are represented in nearly 90 percent of those same cases.

Those with legal help are much more likely to prevail in eviction proceedings than those without, Jack Regenbogen with the Colorado Center on Law said in a statement.

Earlier this year, Denver City Council members pooled money totaling $123,600 in donations from office budgets and personal contributions to help get the eviction legal defense program off the ground.

“We must stem the tide of homelessness,” Councilman Paul Kashmann said in a statement. “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.”

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy covers Denver-area politics for Colorado Politics.