DENVER (KDVR) — This week marks the first time many Coloradans will make a rental payment since COVID-19 restrictions went in place.
“I really do worry about my neighbors who I know were struggling before this happened,” said Trevor Lyle, a Denver tenant.
Lyle says his building is allowing tenants to pay by credit card, an option he took advantage of.
“I would have had to dip into and pretty much drain my savings to pay my rent,” said Lyle.
Like many, Lyle is out of work for the foreseeable future. As a graphic designer, he’s searching for freelance opportunities, but his financial future is unclear.
“I don’t have finances to fall back on for a couple months. I can do maybe another two weeks of this but have no clue what I’ll do after that,” said Lyle.
Lyle says the property management company in charge of his building is offering incentives for people to pay rent early or pay two months rent at once. He says the approach in insensitive during a time when people are struggling to survive.
“People need help right now. They actually need to feel like the place they’re renting from cares,” said Lyle.
Landlords are also in a difficult spot. Mark Bailey, President of Emporia Company, LLC says they rely on rental income to keep their buildings operating.
“Maintenance personnel, cleaning, utilities,” said Bailey. “Maintenance, unless it’s an emergency we’re not bringing them in as often. However, I want to continue to pay them just like restaurant servers. So we’re incurring some expenses that we wouldn’t normally incur so we can keep the lights on for everybody.”
Bailey says he’s working with impacted tenants to come up with a payment plan. He says now is a time to be compassionate, but he also urges tenants to give their landlords a heads up.
“Communication is key. If they were calling me April 4 or 5 that would be a different story,” said Bailey.
There are resources available for those seeking rental assistance. Major Mike Dickinson with the Salvation Army says their calls have increased dramatically over the last week as the first of the month gets closer.
“We’re very committed to helping our neighbors in this time. We recognize that the COVID-19 crisis isn’t going to end today, tomorrow or the next day. We’re in this for the long haul,” said Dickinson.
He says they’ve added four additional case managers and six more volunteers to help with the increased call volume. If you are seeking rental assistance through the Salvation Army, Dickinson says you will need some kind of proof of financial need that is based on a COVID-19 crisis in your life.
“If it’s a loss of income, if they were laid off from their primary job or maybe their second or third job that was providing that income so they could make ends meet,” said Dickinson.
Colorado residents can also dial 211 to seek rental assistance, or visit 211colorado.org.