With the Denver skyline emerging overhead, Denver resident Lance Limper shakes out a blanket as he and his companion Tracy clean around the tent they call home at 25th and Welton streets in Denver on January 22, 2020. 

The East Colfax Neighborhood Association formed a Neighborhood Evictions Watch to protect community members from being displaced during the COVID-19 pandemic, the group announced last week.

“Any eviction is inhumane,” the ECNA website reads. “We believe that we as a neighborhood can come together to prevent evictions.”

On its website, ECNA points to the neighborhood’s near 30% poverty rate and generally cost-burdened community, calling evictions "nearly a daily occurrence” in the neighborhood.

The Neighborhood Evictions Watch includes offering spare rooms to evicted individuals, contacting landlords to resolve issues leading to eviction and cataloging the stories of evicted community members.

“There’s all kinds of things we can do to prevent this thing, which is really a community destroyer in a lot of ways,” said ECNA President Tim Roberts at the monthly meeting on Sept. 15.

ECNA said the goal of the watch is to catch evictions before they happen.

The watch will assist in finding new housing and potentially use funds from its Emergency Assistance Fund or Collaborative Housing Program to provide shelter or assist in paying rent.

Blair Sagan, a former resident of Night Window artist studios, spoke at the ECNA meeting about the difficulty of facing eviction during the pandemic.

Sagan has lived in Denver for 6½ years and moved to East Colfax in November. Sagan was living at the artist studios with a month-to-month lease in August when Sagan received notice that the studio would not be renewing the lease.

Sagan claimed to be given 30 days to get out and offered no explanation as to why.

“I just thought it was so messed up," Sagan said, "especially in the middle of a global pandemic."

Since the eviction, Sagan has been unable to find new affordable housing, currently living in a car.

Sagan said the studios told reporters they evicted Sagan because of failure to pay rent and encumbrances. Sagan called these accusations untrue, blaming the eviction on reporting a domestic violence incident regarding upstairs neighbors.

ECNA is looking for members to join the watch as it expects a significant increase in evictions once the federal eviction moratorium ends in December.

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