PUEBLO COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) - People of all ages are struggling to pay their rent in Pueblo as prices continue to rise. As of April 2023, there has been a 32% increase in eviction notices across the state, according to Colorado Legal Services.
Due to this on-going issue, in 2022, Colorado legal services created a new service called the Pueblo County Eviction Diversion Program. This program is focused on helping people who have fallen behind on their rent payments.
Gail Rodosevich, the Pueblo County Eviction Diversion Program Coordinator at Colorado Legal Services said they have been seeing a need in Pueblo County for this type of program since 2015.
In 2022, Rodosevich said they were able to receive a $300,000 ARPA grant from the City of Pueblo to put an attorney in place to help keep more people off the streets.
Pueblo is the first county in Colorado to establish a coordinated eviction diversion and
housing stability model, according to program organizers. This program was one of four in Colorado mentioned in the US Treasury report.
But Rodosevich said this program would not be where it is without both the City and County of Pueblo, as well as other state grants.
From March to December 31st of 2022, Colorado Legal Services was able to help just about 45% of people stay housed. Overall, they were able to provide over $500,000 in rental assistance.
The Pueblo County Department of Human Services helps aid the program by providing up to $2,500 in rental assistance to help the tenants get back on their feet. But, Rodosevich said that due to rising prices, that only helps with about two months' worth of rent for most places in Pueblo.
While this program has helped lots of people so far, Rodosevich said there are only limited options to help them deal with court costs.
"Once these tenants are in court, there's always an attorney fee. So even if we can pay the rent, there's no resource for the attorney's fees, only through the state," said Rodosevich.
Program coordinators said they help the tenant come up with a solution to ease the burden.
"We always ask the attorneys on the other side to waive the fee. It's unlikely because that's what they do for a living. Sometimes we can set up payments. Sometimes the landlord's attorney will accept payments from the tenant over time, especially if we can keep them housed," said Rodosevich.
Now, they're working with both the county and the city to help aid their program further by providing more money for rental assistance to help keep people from going to court to avoid other costs piling up.