COLORADO SPRINGS — A new program in our area has helped almost 100 families facing evictions, according to the 4th Judicial Court covering El Paso and Teller Counties. Staff with the court say our district accounts for 15% of evictions statewide.
"When evictions happen, and it goes through that formal process, it affects [tenants'] credit. And it lasts for 7 years. So our ability to re-house someone when they have an eviction on their record is next to impossible," said the CEO of nonprofit Homeward Pikes Peak Beth Hall Roalstead.
She says that when evictions happen, people are not always able to take full advantage of nonprofit services in our community available to them.
"They're going to be jumping into survival mode. They're going to be thinking about where they'll be going to stay, and where they'll keep their stuff," Roalstead continued.
At the 4th Judicial Court, Magistrate Andrea Paprzycki says she has seen too many people face evictions because of circumstances that happened to them at no fault of their own. She found herself directing them to nonprofit resources in our community after most eviction trials and wanted to have a program to assist with that.
"It seemed wrong to send them off with this bad outcome. You know, we are obligated to apply the facts to the law, and that's what I do every day, but to send them off without resources felt like going to the doctor with a diagnosis, but not offering them help," she said.
The court's new program is called the Eviction Diversion Program and the Court Assisted Recovery from Eviction, or CARE. It was made possible by a $309,357 grant from the National Center for State Courts. It provides tenants and landlords the opportunity to avoid a court-filed eviction while helping evicted tenants find housing and resources.
"Landlords have legitimate needs for people to get evicted, tenants have legitimate reasons for why they got there and need help," said Paprzycki.
It's made possible through coordination with 22 local nonprofits. Angela Roberts with Community Health Partnership says the nonprofit is looking to help expand that list.
"What supports do they currently have, what do they not have, what does another agency have? We want to streamline the process," she said.
"This doesn't apply to squatters cases. Those are called Removal of Unauthorized Persons cases, those are distinct and not part of the program," said Paprzycki.
She continues that this program is the only one in the state. While funding for the program will stop in August. of next year, she hopes the state legislature can step up to support the progress it's made.
"It helps everyone in the long term if we can make sure people are housed, that people can maintain some continuity in their lives, because with less economic disruption in our community, we all win," said the Magistrate.
Watch KOAA News5 on your time, anytime with our free streaming app available for your Roku, FireTV, AppleTV and Android TV. Just search KOAA News5, download and start watching.