Polis extends eviction moratorium, cuts state budget, announces new mental health committee

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DENVER (KDVR) — Gov. Jared Polis spoke Friday about how the state government is handing the coronavirus crisis.

By amending an existing executive order, the governor extended the prohibition on residential and commercial evictions and foreclosures through the end of May, unless public safety is at risk.

The order prohibits landlords and lenders from charging any late fees or penalties because of an inability to pay rent or a mortgage.

Additionally, landlords must notify their tenants of new federal protections against evictions and foreclosures.

Finally, Polis instructed state agencies to work with landlords and property owners to create a model for agreements that gives tenants time to repay rent.

Through another executive order, the governor slashed the state budget by $228.7 million.

According to the Office of State Planning and Budgeting (OSPB), the order “does not rely on broad across-the-board cuts but rather specific line item reductions that can be made with the least possible impact to State programs and services.”

Polis’ order does not mandate any furloughs or layoffs for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

“OSPB anticipates that the revenue forecast update on May 12, 2020 will show declining revenues to such an extent that appropriated spending will result in the use of one-half or more of the general fund reserve,” the office said in a written statement.

The governor reminded Coloradans in need of assistance to call 211 to be directed to state resources.

Polis also announced the establishment of a new committee that aims to help Coloradans struggling with mental health due to the pandemic.

The committee will be part of the Behavioral Health Task Force. It will do two things:

  1. Create an interim report about the short- and long-term effects of COVID-19 on the behavioral health system, “including access and affordability of behavioral health services, especially for vulnerable and underserved populations.”
  2. Evaluate the behavioral health crisis response to the coronavirus in Colorado and provide recommendations to the task force on how to improve in a future crisis.

Colorado Crisis Services offers free support for any mental health, substance use or emotional concern 24/7. Call 1-844-493-8255 or text TALK to 38255 to speak to a trained professional.

“We want to ensure everyone has the resources they need during this difficult time, whether it’s related to your finances or mental health. We are all in this together and we’re going to get through this together,” the governor said.

Polis also said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has activated the Crisis Care Program (CCP) for Colorado.

“The CCP provides reimbursements to local organizations that support individuals and communities as they recover from the psychological effects of disasters,” the governor’s office said in a statement.

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