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Advocates: Homelessness to Grow Unless Congress Acts

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To afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent in Colorado, full-time workers need to earn $26.45 per hour or work 71 hours a week at current Colorado minimum wage. (Adobe Stock)
To afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent in Colorado, full-time workers need to earn $26.45 per hour or work 71 hours a week at current Colorado minimum wage. (Adobe Stock)
 By Eric Galatas/Dan Heyman, Public News Service - CO - Producer, Contact
July 23, 2020

DENVER - With the federal moratorium on home evictions set to expire on Friday and with federal unemployment support set to end next week, advocates for the homeless are sounding the alarm.

Cathy Alderman, vice president for communications and public policy with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, says unemployment checks and rental assistance programs are working - they're keeping people in their homes. But those federal dollars are running out.

"Senate Republicans have got to come together with the Democrats and get additional federal resources to people who need them, or we are going to have a major homelessness crisis in this country," says Alderman. "On top of the homelessness crisis that we're already in."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others have called federal unemployment assistance a disincentive for people to return to work. Supporters of ending the eviction moratorium note that landlords will be on the hook for mortgages if renters can't pay.

Alderman points to cash infusions in the billions given to banks at the start of the economic downturn, and says if necessary banks should allow landlords to skip mortgage payments.

She says homelessness is incompatible with a public health crisis that requires you to stay home, and preventing thousands of people from being evicted should be a public health priority.

"For people that currently are housed, they need to remain housed," says Alderman, "both in order to protect themselves from contracting the virus as well as to protect the community from potential spread."

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the Heroes Act, which extends the eviction moratorium and includes additional support for rental assistance and homeless services.

Alderman met with Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner's staff this week and was told the Republican currently is not in favor of supporting similar legislation in the Senate.

Disclosure: Colorado Coalition for the Homeless contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Health Issues, Housing/Homelessness, Poverty Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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