The Neighborhoods by the Numbers

Neighborhood level data shows risk of displacement threatens housing stability

for 9 out of 10 households in Globeville and Elyria-Swansea

Our community, and others facing similar undue displacement pressures that derive from historic inequities, cannot keep on waiting for the government or market solutions. This power and will to change must come from the grassroots, from our collective power. To do so, it is both critically important  to understand displacement impacts in our neighborhoods and to clearly propose, organize and build the reality that we want and need. A critical step  is community collected data that is relevant to illustrate the systemic roots of our struggle. 

 

In 2015, when the GES Coalition first formalized, one of the first collectively organized tasks was to conduct a door-to-door, neighborhood survey that gave us an idea of how at risk of displacement our neighbors are.  This data has been the basis of our campaigns moving forward, and because neighbors implemented the survey, we felt the data in a real way, because we see it everyday, and many of us are living it.  When we say, “88% of our neighbor are at risk of displacement”, we are talking about 9 out of 10 of our neighbors. We are talking about relatives and friends. We are talking about our own families. And when we are talking about this data we collected, we are talking about stories of our neighbors--  homeowners at high risk of losing their home, and story after story of how renters face the ongoing threat of displacement.

 

Tip for the Collective:  The “participatory action research” or “community-based-research” approaches here are critical to collecting good data and ensuring that the data is relevant to community movements.  Although not a requirement, a neighborhood or community grant can help cover costs for a neighborhood survey.  Philanthropic groups and foundations, like the Denver Foundation’s Strengthening Neighborhoods grant program, will often fund community-directed projects like a survey. Small grants like these can be a great way to help new community members to get involved, get to know more neighbors, support neighbors getting paid for their work, and support the group to better understand the issues.  

 

In the most recent efforts to collect data (2019-2020), we wanted to better understand the situations and needs of people facing displacement while aligning the needs of neighbors with resources or housing opportunities more intentionally.  We had trained neighborhood navigators implement the surveys and provided initial referrals to resources. Unfortunately, the biggest need: lower priced rental units are almost rarely financed, built or made available.  The challenge of this more in-depth survey was the amount of more personal data, and the lack of real resources to offer people.  At over 140 surveys completed, the COVID -19 pandemic hit,  severely impacting the community, and the GES Navigators who were collecting surveys shifted focus to address immediate needs.  A modified survey was created to continue being able to survey families that also helped to understand the impact of COVID-19 in GES, accumulating in over 200 surveys collected.  The GrowHaus, through their emergency food box program, collected data from the neighbors that were receiving a weekly food box and thus had an excellent “point in time” data set around the impacts of COVID-19 across the three neighborhoods.

   

This data below is a summarized collection of the three survey efforts that all underscore the precarity of GES neighbors housing before the COVID-19 and the disproportionate COVID-19 impact in GES related to both job loss and rent burden.

GES Coalition Pre-COVID-19 Survey (September 2019-February 2020) 140 surveys

GES renters were at great risk of displacement pre-COVID-19.

The majority of households responding to the GES Coalition’s survey prior to COVID-19 were renters 56% (with most being short-term, 40%). [NOTE: There were inconsistent responses across the questions of housing stability. Housing situation was reported to be very stable (80%) yet most reported that they needed to move from their residence within the next 6 months (56%) and 39% (nearly 4 of 10) reported the immediate need to find replacement housing.

Majority of renters in GES were rent burdened prior to COVID-19. 

84% of households were rent-burdened, with the majority being severely rent-burdened (52%), and 52% GES households reported incomes below $21,000, the lowest affordable housing bracket (CHFA, 2020). (Rent burdened refers to paying more than 30% of your income to your housing, and Severely Rent Burdened refers to paying more than 50% of your income to your housing.)

A majority of neighbors have lived in their neighborhood for a long time, and overwhelmingly neighbors want to remain in their neighborhoods

Most of the households have lived in GES for longer than 10 years (60%) as have their families (77%), and 90% reported that remaining in GES was very important for them.

Neighborhoods housing stock is some of Denver’s oldest; many homes in need of critical repairs despite family upkeep.

The majority of households reported the quality of their homes were decent to very good (80%) [NOTE: several households reported a high-quality property but at the same time stated their property needed critical repairs]. Over 40% of respondents reported sewage issues, and over 30% have issues with windows, doors, climate control, and the structural integrity of their dwelling building. This indicates that though land and housing costs are rising overall in the neighborhood, that does not equate to a rise in quality housing for existing GES residents.This may also indicate how homeowners in these areas were unable to obtain loans to remortgage and upgrade their homes. 

Renters overall have positive relationships with neighborhood landlords.

Renters reported positive landlord relationships (62%) and 44% finding that their landlords were quick with repairs.

GES residents are diverse across many demographic measures.

Households in GES are more diverse than Denver, with many having older (22%) and disabled (26%) members, and most being 90% of those surveyed identifying as “Hispanic” or “Latino.”  The households are big, with 46% having more than 4 members, more than 2 children under 18, and having more than 1 child under the age of 5.

GrowHaus COVID-19 survey: (March-May 2020) 462 households that were receiving a food box--COVID-19 significantly harmed the GES household incomes

  • COVID-19 reduced the income for most of the GES households surveyed, with 76% reporting a loss of income from the pandemic. One out of five households reported reduced hours (21%) and one in four a lost job (25%). Households needed rental assistance (46%), utility assistance (45%), and healthcare assistance (20%). This is impacting large families as 70% of households reported 4 or more people.

GES Coalition COVID-19 Economic-Impact Survey (May-June 2020) 80 additional households survey (unique from the first survey above)

  • GES residents are suffering economically under COVID-19-- GES resident income has been destroyed by COVID-19 across demographics, and this is making housing precarity and risk for displacement so much greater. Households reported an average job hourly loss of 17 hours per week and a monthly income loss of $400, with 25% reporting a loss greater than $500. The majority of residents who responded are classified as essential workers (77%), so they're exposing themselves to COVID as their income is shrinking.

  • COVID-19 impacts are diverse and range from family economic stability to overall health

 

Conclusions

Displacement will increase after COVID-19, and will be aggravated by many factors driving displacement pressures, with a disproportionate burden on Black and Brown families. Overall stagnant and low wages and the lack of income is also leading to a potential eviction crisis when the federal moratorium ends. In this survey, all of the households responded that they were rent burdened, with 89% being severely rent-burdened (greater than 50% of their income going to rent/mortgage). Policies need to be in place to protect these residents. As of June 2020, the average respondent was behind two months (owing >$1600 in rent) with several residents reporting that they are draining savings or taking out loans (potentially predatory). This will likely continue if the economic fallout pushes more businesses and industries to struggle or permanently close.