All about Denver's right to counsel

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06/21/2024, Legislation, Housing - Evictions

UPDATE: 2023 report highlights gains of RTC program


A report from the Denver Office of Housing Stability on the tenant RTC found that in 2023:


  • Nearly three-quarters of all clients earned less than 30% of the area median income while half the households were female headed;
  • Only 3% of clients were formally evicted, 34% were able to remain in their home, and an additional 8% left their home with no eviction record.  Results were not known for the other 55% of clients.


UPDATE: ballot initiative that would have expanded / stabilized RTC defeated


In November 2022, Denver voters declined to adopt a ballot initiative that would have expanded the city's enacted right to counsel to cover all tenants regardless of income as well as provide a stable long-term funding source.


UPDATE: City ordinance passed by Council


The City Council has passed an ordinance to guarantee counsel to low-income tenants facing eviction.  Advocates are still pursuing a ballot initiative that would extend the right to all tenants regardless of income and create a new funding stream.




Advocates in Denver are seeking to pass a ballot initiative establishing a right to counsel for tenants facing eviction.  You can learn more on their campaign website, and Westword covered the launch of the campaign.  

At the same time, the City Council has introduced an ordinance to provide a similar right, although it would have more limits than the ballot initiative.  Westword and Denverrite have more on the ordinance.


A 2018 Denver study found that "In the few instances in which a renter had legal counsel, they usually prevailed in the eviction proceeding. Without representation, the dispossession rate was 43 percent in DHA cases and 68 percent in the sample of private housing cases."  It also found that "the Denver Housing Authority filed one eviction over an alleged $4 of unpaid rent, and the median amount in dispute was only a bit higher than $200."

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes



The NCCRC worked with DSA Denver on the initial ordinance and subsequent ballot initiative.