DENVER (KDVR) — The COVID-19 pandemic made the safety of a stable home important. But at the same time, it was even harder for many people to continue to afford their housing, according to the Department of Housing Stability.

There are a lot of candidate races that have been top of mind this election season. However, the Problem Solvers are digging into ballot initiative 305 for Denver voters.

How the ballot initiative works

This citizen-driven proposal is named “No Eviction Without Representation.” It would essentially charge landlords to pay for attorneys for every person who gets evicted.

The ballot language says that it would tax landlords $75 a year for each property.

These funds would go to help pay for every tenant to have free legal representation during an eviction case.

“The way that it would work is it would give people the same sort of right to an attorney that they would already have in a criminal case, right? It would inform them right at the beginning of the process that they have that right and give them access to a free attorney,” said Wren Echo with “No Eviction without Representation.”

The Department of Housing Stability said that almost 9,000 evictions take place in Denver every year.

The proponents of this issue said that 90% of the time corporate landlords have legal representation while renters only have legal counsel 1% of the time. Proponents also said that eviction has a ripple effect and can lead to homelessness.

Opponents said that the spending is wasteful and they’d rather use the money to help prevent people from getting evicted in the first place.

“If we focus on upstream of an eviction, we can keep more people in their homes because we’re actually trying to ward off an eviction at that point,” said Evelyn Lim with Common Sense Institute. “I think the funds could be better utilized for programs that actually help way before an eviction happens and those programs exist.”

The Common Sense Insitute ran the numbers and said that the program is costly and will actually take more money to implement than it would raise. They estimate this program would take thousands of dollars more to implement than the initiative is proposing.

Arguments from the opponents are that the $75 tax will only cause landlords to increase rent to cover that cost, causing housing to become even more unaffordable.

“So, the $75 in reality just gets passed on to the renter, which makes rent even higher. I think what the city and the state should really focus on is just that we are in the situation because we have a deficit in the supply of housing,” said Lim.

The proponents said this effort will also prevent unjust evictions and keep people off the street.

“That has really serious consequences. A lot of those people lose jobs, lose health care. They wind up with this eviction record, which typically means that most landlords won’t run to them basically ever again. A huge proportion of them become homeless as a result of that. So, what we’re trying to do is halt that process in order to keep those people in their homes and prevent a lot of homelessness in Denver,” Echo said.

Right now, there’s already a program in Denver that provides legal representation for lower-income people who are evicted, and this new proposal does not have an income requirement.

Tap here to read the full ballot language.