Headlines April 15, 2020

Headlines April 15, 2020

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A new study is warning that 450,000 renters in Colorado are at risk of being evicted when current guidelines against removing tenants expire after the coronavirus crisis is over.

The Colorado Sun reports that the analysis has been done by the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project including economists at the University of Chicago among others.

While some local jurisdictions in the state have informal and temporary moratoria on evictions, the governor has so far declined to issue an executive order banning them, saying he lacks the power to freeze rent or interfere with housing contracts.

As we previously reported, the Denver City Council passed a resolution Monday night calling for a rent freeze.

Delaying eviction proceedings, however, does not mean that tenants can avoid back rent and late fees, and they will still face eviction after bans are not in place.

One of those involved in the study, attorney Zach Neumann, said that the state is not prepared for what the world is going to look like when the various moratoria on evictions are lifted.

Many renters and activists have already organized a Colorado Rent Strike and Eviction Defense page on Facebook.

Cities in the metro area are facing the projected financial effects of the COVID-19 crisis on their budgets.

Longmont’s City Council learned yesterday they are looking at a shortfall of over $15 million dollars. The city has begun to look at possible solutions including tapping unspent money carried over from 2019 and some unappropriated balances.

Longmont city manager, Harold Dominguez, told the council last night that lost revenues are a significant financial issue for local governments.

The Times Call reports that a number of municipalities have already announced temporary staff cut backs including Broomfield and Nederland.

Officials in Denver say that furlough days for city employees could be used to cut costs until the crisis is over. The city is preparing to lose $180 million as it anticipates a 12 percent drop in tax revenue. The city’s spokesperson for the emergency Joint Information Center said in an email to Colorado Politics that right now they are not implementing furloughs, but they would be evaluated.

The Boulder Valley School District got its first look at budget scenarios for the coming school year. The Daily Camera reports that the board is facing the possibility of cuts, if the state reduces funding due to coronavirus shutdowns.

The state legislature has been suspended until the middle of next month, and by then the district’s Chief Financial Officer said they will have a much better idea of where things stand.

If the state were to cut the district’s budget by as much as 5 percent, Boulder Valley would have to cut nearly $4 million in its budget.

The coronavirus is affecting Hispanic, African American and those from Hawaiian and Pacific islands who are in Colorado at higher rates than other ethnic groups.

In preliminary data released from the state Department of Public Health and Environment, cases among Hispanic Coloradans are about 28 percent of reported cases, while making up 22 percent of the population.  African American confirmed cases represent 7 percent in the state, despite making up just 4 percent of the state’s population.

The department said that there are racial disparities for certain diseases due to unequal access to health care and economic opportunism occurring over many generations.


Yesterday, immigration attorneys in Colorado sued ICE and the GEO Group in an effort to release medically at-risk detainees from the detention center in Aurora.

Attorneys say that conditions at the Aurora facility ensure that there will be a COVID-19 outbreak among detainees because employees are not using personal protective equipment, there are insufficient cleaning supplies and social distancing is not being followed.

The Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network, the National Immigration Project of the Lawyer’s Guild and the law firm of Arnold and Porter filed the case in federal court, alleging that the detainees are being deprived of life liberty or property without due process.

The Colorado Independent reports that as of about a week ago nearly 530 people were being held at the facility.

Should there be an outbreak, the suit says it would become a death sentence inside the detention center.

The Lafayette City Council is expected to vote next week on whether to extend its moratorium on oil and gas operations.

The Daily Camera reports that last November the council extended its moratorium until May 30th because it was thought that Boulder County and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission would have revised their rules by sometime early this spring. But some rulemaking has been delayed due to the coronavirus.

An attorney for the city told the council that it should extend the moratorium for six months.

 

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Speaking at last night’s Boulder City Council meeting, local health officials gave council members an update on local numbers related to the COVID 19 crisis.

Boulder County Public Health Director Jeff Zayach said the death toll from COVID-19 in Boulder County, as of Tuesday, was 15, and added that 290 people have tested positive.

Zayach says that they know there are more people in the community who are positive that have not been tested, so officials expect to see more cases and then they would want to do more quarantine to hold down contact so those cases don’t end up in the hospital.

Governor Jared Polis extended Colorado’s stay-at-home order through the end of April, and he emphasized how important social-distancing will be in the next two weeks.

Even though new infections of COVID-19 have not stabilized, the number of coronavirus tests analyzed each day by commercial labs in the U.S. plummeted by more than 30 percent over the past week. Dr. Robert Vissers leads Boulder Community Hospital and said two-hours tests are starting to arrive at BCH.

Dr. Vissers said that they only received 30 test kits and because there is a limited supply. He added that the tests are being used where they need an immediate answer, for example, a woman coming in labor or a critically ill patient. He added that the hospital is hoping to get a larger shipment of tests later this week.

Statewide more than 39,500 people have been tested for the novel Coronavirus. 329 people in the state have died.

While non-profits are struggling during the current COVID-19 pandemic, local foundations are stepping in to help. Three weeks ago, The Longmont Community Foundation initiated the Neighbor to Neighbor COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fund meant to help nonprofits in the area.

In just 3 weeks, the foundation was able to raise $100,000. Most of the money was raised from small individual donors. The foundation was able to distribute 33 grants to locally based nonprofits. The grants ranged from $300 to $13,000.

For all of the non-profits who received the money, it was much needed. The Times Call reports that Community Food Share will be able to provide an additional 30,000 meals with the grant they received.

Homeless Outreach Providing Encouragement, better known as HOPE, will use its $2,700 grant to help run new day shelter. The shelters operate seven days a week from 1 to 5 p.m.

A daycare facility in Aurora is expecting an emergency shipment of baby supplies from FEMA that it will distribute to low-income families in need. The Aurora Sentinel reports that about 90,000 diapers, 1,200 baby formula containers and 1,260 packs of diaper wipes will be arriving at Little Angels daycare.

All Aurora families, plus all residents of Elbert and Adams counties, will be able to pick up free baby supplies this week. Little Angels will also become a kind of regional distribution hub for other daycare centers in the region, who will distribute the diapers, wipes and formula to the families they serve.

People in need can visit the Arapahoe County Early Childhood Council website to learn more and see when the supplies will be available at www.acecc.org.