(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Wednesday afternoon, March 1, at the State Capitol, a group of people gathered to address the need for tenant’s rights specifically in the new House Bill 1171.
“I think it was really exciting for us to see everybody come out. You know, we haven’t been able to do that in the same way the last couple of years,” said the Head of State and Local Policy for the Community Economic Defense Project, Melissa Mejía.
The Just Cause Eviction bill ensures tenants and families are safe in their homes specifically in outlining that a landlord cannot evict them unless there is just cause.
“The goal is to keep people in their homes and avoid evictions, that’s sort of like the number one immediate fix,” Mejía said. “But really what that does is then keep communities more intact, prevent displacement unnecessarily, and keeps families healthier.”
In attendance at the press conference were members from the Colorado Homes for All Coalition and the Community Economic Defense Project as well as renters sharing their stories of unjust evictions.
“These added protections are super important because right now, you know, when a landlord doesn’t want to renew your lease in Colorado, they don’t have to give you a reason,” said Co-Chair of Colorado Homes for All, Cesiah Guadarrama Trejo.
Betty Field, Chairperson for Centennial Plaza Tenants Association, explained how this bill can help tenants like herself and ensure they have more rights.
“A vast majority of folks that live in Colorado Springs are renters,” Field said. “And so protecting those renters’ rights are so important to maintaining the community that we all love here in the Springs and throughout Colorado.”
Field shared her living situation and the fear she has of losing her home and not having anywhere to go.
“The building that I live in… is managed by the Colorado Springs Housing Authority,” Field said. “My neighbors and I are all elderly, disabled and all of us living on that very limited budget, most of us on Social Security disability. We live in constant fear of losing our home, living in subsidized housing is never someone’s first choice.”
Colorado Homes for All is a coalition of organizations representing tenants who live all across the state. The group works to protect the right that humans have to stable and safe housing.
“Our vision and mission is making sure that housing is a human right in the state of Colorado or making sure that we are advancing policies that are protecting tenants all across the state,” Guadarrama Trejo said. “And we believe that the policy and the advocacy work that we do is very important and it’s also super important for who gets to be at the table and who gets to work on these, and those most directly impacted should be at the forefront working on these changes in the state.”
The other group at the press conference, Community Economic Defense Project, provides assistance to renters by offering legal help and providing tools to teach tenants about their rights.
“We now have a law firm that provides no cost eviction representation throughout Colorado,” Mejía said. “So anywhere in the state we also provide rental assistance throughout the state and we do resource connections.”
The Colorado Association of Realtors shared a statement with KDVR saying they had concerns about this new bill and it needed “significant clarifications, amendments, and exclusions.”
For renters like Field, she is hopeful that this new bill will help keep her protected and ensure the comfort of her home for the future.
“As a renter, we should be able to expect that we have safe, well-maintained homes and that doesn’t always happen,” Field said. “And like I said before, our housing affects every part of our lives. So we’re afraid of losing housing and I know a lot of tenants are afraid of, you know, really complaining about an issue in their home for fear of eviction.”
HB23-1171 passed in the Transportation, Housing & Local Government committee with a vote of 9-4 and will next be brought before the State House for a vote.