The Boulder County Justice Center saw more eviction case filings last month than it has in any month since the onset of the Covid-10 pandemic. Credit: Anthony Albidrez

After a pandemic moratorium on evictions led to a brief drop in filings, activity in Boulder County’s eviction courts is rising yet again — to levels not seen in years. 

Property owners sought to evict more tenants last month than they had since early 2020, leaving these renters at risk of losing their housing and putting strain on the City of Boulder’s rental assistance program. 

In February 2023, the two courts in Boulder County — Boulder County Justice Center and the Longmont Safety and Justice Center — recorded 153 eviction case filings, the most since February 2020, according to state data. Under state law, details of these cases are often suppressed, making it difficult to track evictions in the City of Boulder and other towns and cities. 

The uptick comes one month after Boulder County stopped accepting new applicants for its emergency rental assistance program. The program, funded by a federal pandemic-era stimulus package, helped prevent eviction proceedings by giving money to landlords and tenants for rent. 

The program’s end means even less financial help will be available to struggling renters. Meanwhile, inflation is driving up the cost of food, gas, childcare and other necessities, compounding the region’s high housing costs. 

“It’s pretty dire out there,” Julie Van Domelen, the executive director of Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA), a nonprofit that provides emergency assistance for basic needs, told Boulder Reporting Lab. “We’re seeing historic levels of need right now.”

The county’s per capita eviction rate for February was still below the State of Colorado’s, in part thanks to the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program. 

Boulder County received $22.2 million under the pandemic stimulus program, and has dispersed $16.8 million rental assistance to landlords and renters. Some remaining money is still being distributed. The rest was spent on administrative costs or sent back to the U.S. Treasury Department because it was not distributed fast enough, the county said. 

“Funding for emergency rental assistance is once again very limited across our Boulder County communities,” Jim Williams, a spokesman for Boulder County Housing and Human Services, wrote in an email to Boulder Reporting Lab. “The federal assistance provided a significant boost to local resources.” 

The county has no clear plan for how to fill the gap yet. “We and many partner organizations will continue to work together to identify potential additional funding sources and services that can help struggling households maintain their housing,” Williams added. 

With less rental assistance money from the county, the City of Boulder’s rental assistance program — the Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance Services Program, or EPRAS — is facing high demand. The city has spent about $1.1 million since the program launched in 2021, mostly to help property owners settle rent debt. 

The program also provides legal support for tenants facing eviction. It is paid for through a $75 tax on rental licenses. The tax is expected to generate just $1.4 million in 2023, according to the city

To make the money go further and to more people, the city recently cut the amount of rental assistance it provides to each household to $3,000, from $4,000. But it is spending more overall. 

Jay Allen, a program coordinator with the City of Boulder who helps oversee the EPRAS program, said that in January, the city doubled its amount of monthly rental assistance due to demand. 

“We are starting to evaluate if this is sustainable,” Allen told Boulder Reporting Lab. “If we were to keep funding it at that level, the funding wouldn’t last.” 

‘Homelessness being driven by evictions’

Unpaid rent is the primary reason property owners seek to evict tenants.

The City of Boulder’s median rent in February increased 10% over the same month last year, according to Zillow. According to the U.S. Census, in the last decade, the median cost of rent in the city has increased more than the median income of its renters. 

Van Domelen, of EFAA, said residents the organization serves spend up to 70% of their incomes on rent, leaving little money for anything else. (Spending more than 30% of your income on housing, including utilities, makes you “cost burdened.”) 

Adding to the pressure, the federal boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, expired this month. Some 25,000 Boulder County residents are enrolled in the program. 

Some people have more than a year’s worth of unpaid rent, resulting in too much debt for rental assistance programs to cure, Van Domelen said. Debt makes an eviction all the more likely. 

“Once you have an eviction on your record, it’s extremely difficult to find housing,” Van Domelen said. “We’re finding more and more actual homelessness being driven by evictions.”

John Herrick is senior reporter for Boulder Reporting Lab, covering housing, transportation, policing and local government. He previously covered the state Capitol for The Colorado Independent and environmental policy for He is interested in stories about people, power and fairness. Email:

Join the Conversation


  1. Hmmmm. $16.8 million distributed in rental assistance. I submit that this is partially responsible for exacerbating high rents. In a free market evictions cause vacancies. If vacancies are high, landlords must lower rent. Messing with supply and demand rarely produces good, long term results. Another great example is the student loan program which has resulted in a tripling of college costs in the past 3 decades.

  2. It is highly unlikely that this rental assistance has had any discernable impact on local housing costs. Of all occupied units paying rent in Boulder County, less than 2 % would have received this assistance and the amount of rent paid out on an annual basis was less than 1% of overall rental payments in the market. Drop in the bucket. In addition, we have seen quite a bit of rental assistance going to stabilize people with housing vouchers or living in permanently affordable housing units (where there would be no impact on rental rates). Lots of other drivers of rising housing costs.

  3. The homeless situation is driven by housing restrictions. Like if mobile home and RV parks were allowed people would have lower cost places to live. Boulder also does social engineering by restricting the number of unrelated people in each house to 3. People are also restricted from adding additional living quarters as in furnished basements, upstairs attics, tiny homes in back yards and garage conversions. To build anything a long and expensive permit process is required where just about anybody can raise objections making it building available only to to the very wealthy and persistent. Like even churches have been prosecuted for allowing homeless to camp in fenced in areas. Like what we see in Boulder is blatant class warfare driving up rents and producing a police state environment where the residents of lesser means are brutally suppressed.

  4. How can you provide housing to people with multiple evictions? Then state that we are trying to house everyone? How do you assist someone who doesn’t want to accept your ideal of housing and would prefer to be homeless? What can we offer them and the ones who keep getting evicted are non violent but addicted to some drug or alcohol? How do you put an end to homelessness without ticketing them numerous times, making them criminals for being homeless?

Leave a comment
Boulder Reporting Lab comments policy
All comments require an editor's review. BRL reserves the right to delete or turn off comments at any time. Please read our comments policy before commenting.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *