These programs focus on helping renters better afford their rent and obtain or maintain stable rental housing.

Tenant-Based Rental Assistance

Overview and Description

Tenant-based rental assistance (TBRA) is a rental subsidy given directly to a person/household and is not tied to a specific residential unit or property. The most common TBRA program is the Housing Choice Voucher program, which is administered by public housing authorities and allocated by the federal government. HOME funds (also federally allocated to some local governments and the State Division of Housing) and local funding may be allocated toward TBRA as well. TBRA can be time-limited and linked to supporting residents who are pursuing economic mobility opportunities, including higher education.

In addition to the financial support in the form of a voucher, TBRA programs often include other components such as mobility counseling for voucher recipients and landlord registry and engagement programs designed to improve the willingness of landlords to accept tenants with housing vouchers.

Program Lead: Local Government or Non-Profit

Role for Local Government: In addition to administering federally-funded vouchers, state and local government can dedicate local funds to provide additional TBRA, which can be more flexible to local needs without federal requirements. They can also undertake landlord engagement and partner with counseling organizations to provide mobility counseling support.

Opportunity and Examples from Colorado

Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) - these federally-funded vouchers are administered by state and local public housing authorities and provide rental assistance to eligible tenants.

The Denver Department of Housing Stability Action Plan for 2022 highlights improving and expanding tenant-based vouchers as one of the strategies to implement in years one and two of the five-year plan. This program will introduce a locally funded voucher program to supplement existing federal and state voucher programs in use in Denver. This will happen through partnership with the Colorado Division of Housing and the Denver Housing Authority.

Legal Assistance for Renters

Overview and Description

When facing unfair eviction, landlord harassment, fair housing discrimination or hazardous conditions vulnerable renters may require legal intervention. A non-profit legal organization can provide programs to expand access to legal support for renters who cannot afford these services or may not know where to look for support. Programs may provide proactive services to educate renters and landlords about their rights, as well as reactive legal representation, counseling or assistance.

Program Lead: Legal Services Organization

Role for Local Government: Local governments can provide resources to help fund legal clinics. They can also leverage relationships with other entities (state government, philanthropy, anchor institutions) to provide additional resources. Some jurisdictions have created a legal "right to counsel" that guarantees (i.e. commits to funding and finding) legal representation for all tenants facing eviction.

Opportunity and Examples from Colorado

Colorado Legal Services is a state-wide legal service that helps Colorado residents with housing-related issues. This Center is included in resource lists on most Colorado local government pages.

Colorado Housing Connects is an additional resource listed on many local government pages to direct residents looking for rental support of any kind. Colorado Housing Connects helps renters struggling with rent, utility costs, eviction, among other challenges find the service centers that can provide the necessary assistance.

The City of Boulder offers its residents the Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance Services program that connects legal and financial services for renters facing housing challenges.

Guides and Resources

Emergency Rental Assistance

Overview and Description

Emergency short-term rental assistance aims to reduce displacement and/or homelessness by supporting renters who cannot cover their rent due to unforeseen circumstances, including medical emergencies, sudden rent increases, unexpected loss of a job or other income. Emergency housing assistance is most often offered as a direct grant to households to support payment of rent or utilities. Community navigators have been proven to increase access to emergency rental and legal assistance resources for the most vulnerable populations – those who have language barriers, BIPOC households and extremely low-income households. In addition to targeting those who are already homeless, many programs also include prevention components that include eligibility for those at significant risk of becoming homeless due to eviction.

Program Lead: Local Government or Non-Profit

Role for Local Government: Local governments can implement the program or fund a non-profit organization to implement a rental assistance program, or provide support to pay for community navigators. Either way, they can support the marketing of the program to the most at-risk households. In addition, they can work with partners to identify pathways to longer-term solutions that address underlying cause of instability.

Opportunity and Examples from Colorado

Homeless Prevention Activities Program (HPAP): Funding for HPAP is made available through the state income tax check-off, which allows Colorado residents to make voluntary contributions on their state income tax return. DOH administers HPAP annually through a competitive process to non-profit organizations throughout the state. Services provided include but are not limited to direct payments to landlords and/or utility companies, and case management. Approximately 500 households are served annually through HPAP.

Clear Creek County has created a Housing Coordinator position that offers consultation on a range of different issues that renters are experiencing. Rental assistance, mediation, education, and connecting with further services are some of the resources provided.

Denver has a Temporary Rent and Utility Assistance program. This service helps Denver residents pay rent and utilities on time.

Arapahoe County offers rent and utility assistance for residents living outside of the City of Aurora. Restrictions now apply to residents due to funding that is available, and only households who have an eviction hearing scheduled are eligible for this program right now.