Urban Institute: Lake County in the News

Lake County Build a Generation is excited to share “Eviction Prevention and Diversion Programs: Early Lessons from the Pandemic” from the Urban Institute, which includes recognition of Lake County’s response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Lake County was one of four communities featured in this article and we are proud to share this recognition with the Lake County Community Fund, Full Circle of Lake County, Lake County Public Health Agency, Lake County Wraparound, and the Lake County Department of Human Services. Below are excerpts from the article which recognize Lake County’s response in particular. To read the full article, head to: https://tinyurl.com/3xyma6yt

Lake County High School students take a semester long fly fishing class at Crystal Lake outside of Leadville, Colorado through a partnership between Lake County High School and Get Outdoors Leadville! Three days a week the students are in class learning about fly rod construction and two days a week they go out and fish at various local places with instructor Colin McFee.

In Colorado, the nonprofit COVID Eviction Defense Program (CEDP) was formed in March 2020 as the pandemic was just beginning. Although its core staff had already been practicing pro bono eviction defense law, several early signs—including messages on social media and results from early eviction risk models—convinced its founders to form a formal organization dedicated to eviction prevention. CEDP initially focused on providing legal services, publishing data and research, and advocating for policy change. CEDP later piloted a rental assistance fund.

In Colorado, CEDP coordinates with courts, local governments, and other nonprofits throughout the state. CEDP provides legal guidance to local nonprofit partners and direct legal assistance to tenants when cases cannot be resolved at the local level. It has also implemented a rental assistance pilot that consolidates past and future rent into a single check at reduced rates, streamlining the process and helping funding go further. It collects and analyzes eviction data and advocates for policy change across the state. This division of labor lets local partners focus on maintaining productive day-to-day relationships and move more complicated and potentially fraught negotiations to CEDP. As one local stakeholder put it, CEDP’s involvement provides the local effort some “legitimacy” in the eyes of the landlords.

The COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project (CEDP), formed in March 2020, was designed to integrate previous mainstream eviction and homelessness prevention services in Colorado. CEDP connects renters who are facing financial hardship and are at risk of eviction to legal representation and other services, as well as a rental assistance innovation fund. CEDP also collects data, conducts and publishes research, and engages in policy advocacy. CEDP collaborates with community organizations and, in some counties, the local courts.  To understand how this operates at the local level, we also interviewed representatives from two organizations involved in eviction prevention efforts in Lake County, Colorado.

In Lake County, Colorado, for instance, locally raised funds do not cover 100 percent of rent, but they are distributed more quickly than state funds, which are more generous but take longer. This state-level delay has meant that smaller landlords have tended to be more open to the continued use of local funds, while larger landlords, with other sources of regular cash flow, have tended to move to the state-funded programs.

Racial and Economic Equity
In Colorado, CEDP, and specifically the Lake County Unmet Needs Committee program, serves a large population of immigrants for whom English is their second language. Lake County conducts outreach in both Spanish and English and partners with organizations that have built deep trust with immigrant communities. For many tenants hesitant to access federal and state resources because of their immigration status, Lake County’s program provides the necessary bridge to their access.   In Lake County, it was vital that the Unmet Needs Committee conducted a needs assessment of the community before formally setting up its eviction diversion program. As Stephanie Cole, executive director of Full Circle of Lake County and member of the Lake County Unmet Needs Committee, explained, “Folks that had lost their job and didn’t have any access to unemployment, they were working under the table, they had major barriers or fears to accessing any government assistance. Very quickly, we realized that [our] focus needed to be on those left behind from our safety net…There’s still a large portion that’s totally left behind, so that was a driver of the design, was to bring a balance to the relief efforts.”

Last fall, the Health Equity Advocacy (HEA) Cohort sponsored a Summit Series that included 11 webinars on the themes of advancing policy, healing towards action and changing the narrative. The Summits featured nationally-renowned speakers as well as Colorado-based leaders.

Kevin Fong has created several playlists on YouTube that include the full recordings of all the Summits in English and Spanish; 5 of the Summits are also available in French:

The Summit Planning Team also supported the creation of several shorter video clips that highlight key takeaways from the various Summits.

Kevin has created playlists of these shorter clips by topic:

  1. Racial Justice | Justicia racial
  2. Philanthropy | Filantropía
  3. Young Leaders | Jóvenes Líderes
  4. Respectful Communication | Paz en la Comunicación
  5. Organizational Leadership | Líderes Organizacionales
  6. Intersectionality | Interseccionalidad
  7. How Native Communities Thrive | Como las Comunidades Indígenas Prosperan
  8. Healing Toward Action | Curación Hacia Acción
  9. Disrupting White Supremacy | Interrumpiendo la Lista de Reproducción de Supremacía Blanca
The brand new We Love Leadville sign in Leadville, Colorado.

Lake County Build a Generation and the Lake County Youth Master Plan/Health Equity Steering Committee announce that the $25,000 Culture of Health prize funds from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have been awarded to the St. George Mobile Food Pantry and Community Kitchen project.

Once launched, the Mobile Food Pantry will travel weekly to four key neighborhoods: Downtown Leadville, Lake Fork, Mountain Valley Estates, and Mountain View East & West to offer a no-cost grocery program to anyone in the Lake County community. Food for the mobile food pantry will come from the Food Bank of the Rockies, several grocery stores in Lake and Summit Counties, local restaurants, and Colorado-based growers.

The Community Kitchen will be a space where Lake County residents can learn to cook nutritious meals and where local organizations can work to unite all of Lake County’s food resources under one roof. This kitchen will address Lake County’s long-term food needs while creating a space that prioritizes community relationship-building via food.

For more information on this upcoming project, please contact Brittany from St. George at (719) 486-3087.