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Sam Gilman

  • ‘Our government is gambling with human life’

    August 5, 2020

    Without federal intervention, housing experts and advocates warn of an unprecedented wave of evictions in the coming months, and one far more devastating than the round that came after the 2008 foreclosure crisis. Last month, according to the Census Bureau, nearly 25 million people reported they had little to no confidence they would be able to pay rent in the next month, and almost 30 million people said they didn’t have enough to eat. Meanwhile, talks to pass a second relief package have stalled in Congress as a lifeline for 30 million Americans — $600 a week in extra federal unemployment benefits — expired...In June, an analysis by the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project, a coalition of researchers and legal experts, estimated 19 million to 23 million renters were at risk of eviction by Sept. 30. “That number may actually be understated,” says Sam Gilman '22, co-founder of the group. “We’re starting to see signs that the economic recovery that we modeled into our initial numbers is not going to happen.” Broader economic trends are not helping. On July 30, the U.S. economy notched its worst economic quarter in recorded history, and for the 19th consecutive week, at least 1 million people applied for unemployment benefits. Meanwhile, assistance through state and local programs has dried up. In Houston, a $15 million rental assistance program suspended services after 90 minutes because of overwhelming need. Thirty percent of the 200 state and local rental assistance programs tracked by the National Low Income Housing Coalition have already exhausted their resources, says Yentel.

  • “We have nowhere to go”: Hundreds of thousands of Coloradans at risk of eviction

    June 19, 2020

    Colorado renters will get more help with their rent payments and have an extra 20 days before non-payment of rent leads to eviction under an executive order signed this week by Gov. Jared Polis. But housing advocates say the order isn’t enough to keep thousands of people from being forced from their homes...The COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project, formed in March to provide legal representation for tenants facing eviction, estimated in April that between 300,000 and 400,000 people in Colorado are at risk of losing their homes by September, after local and federal eviction moratoriums and emergency unemployment benefits expire. Sam Gilman, a data analyst and co-founder of the COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project, said that is a conservative estimate because it assumed some people had savings to help cover rent or mortgage payments or had access to credit. Gilman said a “looming avalanche of evictions” will get worse when federal enhanced unemployment benefits turn off at the end of July. “That $600 a week that they’re getting on top of Colorado’s unemployment is a lifeline, and enables folks to pay their rent.”

  • “People are going to end up homeless”: Inside lawmakers’ failed effort to extend Colorado’s eviction moratorium

    June 12, 2020

    In the closing hours of Colorado’s 2020 legislative session and with a statewide eviction moratorium set to expire, Senate Democrats worked feverishly on a last-minute plan to protect hundreds of thousands of Coloradans who may be at risk of eviction in the coming months. State Sen. Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, hoped to extend the moratorium through October. As she spoke emotionally on the Senate floor for more than an hour about housing insecurity, Sen. Jeff Bridges, D-Greenwood Village, was working to broker a last-minute deal that would satisfy tenant advocates, the housing lobby and a handful of wavering Democratic lawmakers. But the talks collapsed and as the Senate adjourned just before 11 on Thursday night, it seemed unlikely that any extension of the eviction moratorium would materialize before the legislature adjourns in coming days...Unemployment has shot into double digits in the state since the coronavirus took hold here in March, creating an unexpected financial crisis for many Coloradans. “The big moment that this all will become acute is on July 31, when federal enhanced unemployment benefits turn off,” said Sam Gilman '22, co-founder of Colorado’s Eviction Defense Project, which formed in March. “The renters who have relied on this funding as a lifeline to be able to pay their rent will immediately face huge difficulty paying their rent.”