Safe and stable housing is essential for the health and well-being of everyone, especially for children and families. Colorado’s Child Fatality Prevention System 2020 Legislative Report specifically recommends the support of policies that expand access to quality, affordable and stable housing across the state in order to ensure positive health outcomes for children and families. The passing of such policies is greatly needed as families still face significant challenges in accessing and affording quality and stable housing.
Current research Families with children are more likely to face eviction than households without children. Policies that build and promote concrete supports for stable housing are critical because housing security helps protect children from injury and violence, including child abuse and neglect.
To ensure safe and stable housing for Coloradans, the Colorado state legislature is currently considering Senate Bill 21-173 Rights in Residential Lease Agreements which, if passed, will:
- Require information about late payment fees to be included in tenant leases,
- Limit late fees on unpaid rent to a set percentage, dollar amount and grace period,
- Give renters more time to come up with their rent and avoid eviction, prohibiting tenant evictions solely for owing late fees,
- Ban lease clauses that provide financial incentives to landlords who evict,
- Eliminate bond requirements so Colorado renters can offer legitimate defenses and not get priced out of court, and
- Establish a financial penalty for landlords who illegally lock out tenants.
Safe, stable, and affordable housing is crucial for family well-being, particularly for families with low-incomes disproportionately affected by housing hardship. This can undermine healthy family functioning and may increase the likelihood that children in those environments will experience neglect or abuse. Housing instability may also have a direct correlation on other forms of physical neglect for children, such as food insecurity and lack of access to medical care. In addition, studies have also shown that there is an association between housing insecurity and other subtypes of child maltreatment, such as physical or emotional abuse. Evidence shows that a lack of adequate shelter and exposure to chaotic or unsafe living environments leads to increased rates of parental stress. Conditions of scarcity and stress have a direct impact on parent behavior and their ability to provide resources to their families.
SB21-173 is particularly important for addressing inequities that impact renter households of color who are bearing the weight of higher housing cost burdens. Due to a long-standing history of discriminatory housing and lending practices, Black, Indigenous, and people of color face even more barriers to adequate housing, systemically creating more conditions of scarcity and stress for those families. Further, the economic hardship created by the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the challenges families face in securing affordable and adequate housing and has amplified the need for the measures in this bill. In order to support our children and our families, we must increase fairness in the eviction court process and reasonably limit late fees in order to prevent housing instability, eviction, and homelessness, which will ultimately help advance racial equity and support all Coloradans to have stable housing.
SB21-173 is scheduled for the House Business Affairs & Labor Committee on Thursday, May 13th, at 1:30pm. Thank you to partners at 9 To 5 Colorado, Colorado Center on Law and Policy, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project, Enterprise Community Partners, Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, Together Colorado and more for supporting this important bill. Thank you to Representatives Caraveo and Gonzales-Gutierrez and Senators Gonzales and Moreno for your leadership and sponsorship of SB21-173.