DENVER (KDVR) — Denver Mayor Mike Johnston will review a new budget sent to him by the City Council.
The council approved adding $17.5 million to the rental assistance fund, but Johnston may or may not approve it when he brings his version back to them on Oct. 16.
The group that lobbied the council for the funding boost is called the Community Economic Defense Project.
CEDP laid the reasons why millions more are needed to keep people from getting evicted from their homes, a contributing factor to rising homelessness.
“I would rather throw some money at the problem now than throw twice or triple the amount later,” Elina Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez is with CEDP, she said it is better to invest now in preventing homelessness in Denver than much more later.
“If they end up homeless, they will need significantly more services and resources, in addition to the services and resources that come with rehousing,” Rodriguez said.
CEDP successfully lobbied Denver’s City Council to ask for more funds for the rental assistance fund, which currently stands at $12.6 million.
“It could be a lot higher, for sure,” Rodriguez said, “but $17.5 million is the bare minimum required to meaningfully solve the crisis we see coming towards us.”
That crisis, Rodriguez said, is a wave of evictions that could happen in Denver in 2024.
“$17.5 million is enough to stop 5,500 evictions, which is close to 50%, the majority of all evictions we anticipate to see next year,” she said.
If approved by city leaders, that $17.5 million would put the rental assistance fund at more than $30 million, shadowing what the funds could impact today.
“That $12.6 million is only estimated to address between 18 and 25 percent of the evictions that we estimate are coming,” Rodriguez said.
This assistance, according to Rodriguez, will help families across the city to get back on their feet, in most cases, for good.
“The majority of our clients are not return clients, they get their rental assistance and it gets them on their feet,” Rodriguez said.
One council member, Darrell Watson, voted against the proposed boost to the rental assistance fund.
Watson’s argument was that the money had to come from somewhere, likely leading to cuts from other city departments.