Denver proposes temporary rental and utility assistance program extension and expansion
At today’s Safety, Housing, Education and Homelessness Committee meeting, the Denver Office of Economic Development (OED) is proposing to extend and expand the Temporary Rental and Utility Assistance program (TRUA), an emergency assistance program for residents facing a housing crisis. The TRUA program, which served more than 500 households during a pilot phase this past November through March, is currently being considered by Denver City Council for an extension through December 31, 2018.
TRUA offers rent and utility assistance to households earning up to 80% of the area median income, which is $50,350 for an individual and $71,900 for a family of four. Paid for through Denver’s Affordable Housing Fund, TRUA is part of a collaborative effort by OED to address critical and immediate needs of people facing utility shutoff, eviction, or displacement.
“Job loss, a devastating rent increase without adequate notice, emergency medical costs – any one of these and more can put an individual or family’s housing stability at risk,” said Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “TRUA provides a responsive, rapid process to get residents the emergency support they need to help them stay in their homes as they manage a personal crisis, and we want to continue providing that support to those who need it.”
Resolutions are being considered to extend two separate TRUA contracts with nonprofit program delivery partners – the Northeast Denver Housing Center and Brothers Redevelopment Inc. The nonprofits’ initial contracts for $380,000 and $485,000 are each proposed to increase by $500,000, bringing the city’s total investment in TRUA to nearly $1.9 million since the launch in November of last year.
Results on the initial four-month pilot phase far exceeded expectations, with program organizers expecting to serve nearly 300 households with rent and utility assistance. Between November 1, 2017 and early March 2018, 486 households received rent assistance and 84 households received help with water or energy bills.
In addition to illustrating this significant demand, the pilot phase dispersed assistance in 69 neighborhoods throughout the city, with nearly two-thirds of the households helped falling under the 30% Area Medium Income (AMI) level, which at 2018 levels is $24,300 for a family of three.
To boost the longer-range stability of struggling households, TRUA program organizers are also adding housing counseling and benefit navigation services to qualifying applicants, along with guidance to free financial coaching as well as mediation services. While fewer than 5% of the households who received help during the pilot phase received more than one month’s assistance, the city seeks to balance its emergency/immediate housing program services with other support programs so that households can better weather the storm of a setback on income or other circumstances.
Pending passage by City Council committee today, the resolutions will advance to the full City Council for approval on May 21. Following an approval by City Council, the program would be reinstated in late May for program applications. For more information on eligibility and enrollment, visit www.Denvergov.org/housing.