Gov. Jared Polis on Friday asked property owners to be lenient toward their Colorado tenants as thousands in the state deal with employment as a result of the new coronavirus.
The Democrat requested that landlords refrain from imposing late fees on tenants until at least April 30 and asked that they hold off on evicting people who don’t or can’t pay. He also asked local governments to avoid using law enforcement resources for evictions that don’t affect public safety, while ordering that no state resources be used for such actions.
Additionally, Polis asked utilities to give leeway to customers who may be struggling to pay because of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
“You should not lose your home or your utilities simply because a restaurant shut down to prevent hundreds or thousands of Coloradans from dying,” Polis said.
Polis also asked banks to allow for a 90-day payment deferment for consumer loans to ease the burden on Coloradans affected by the virus.
And for all taxpayers, Polis extended the deadline to file state taxes for 90 days to July 15. Going a step further than a similar federal tax extension, the delay will impose “no conditions, no caps on the amount of tax that can be deferred for the 90-day period.”
The guidance comes after Polis in the past week shut down restaurants and bars to in-person dining until at least April 30. He also ordered casinos, gyms, salons, tattoo parlors, massage parlors and ski areas to close.
The economic impact has been swift. Former Denver Mayor Federico Peña, who has been tapped by Polis to advise him on how to help the private sector, said the effect will be “enormous.”
“This is a global economic challenge the likes of which I have not seen in my lifetime,” said Peña, who also served as the secretaries of transportation and energy in the 1990s.
Peña will join a host of business leaders, including Foundry Group leader Brad Feld, former Level 3 CEO Jim Crowe, Colorado Business Committee for the Arts Director Deborah Jordy, Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort, union leader Gary Arnold and Bow River Capital Founder Blair Richardson on an emergency panel to help the governor respond to the crisis.
State officials, including state treasurer Dave Young and labor department director Joe Barela, will also work with the team. Colorado Office of Economic Development chief Betsy Markey will coordinate.
“Speed is of the essence here,” Peña said. “We’ve got to help workers and companies that are (hurting) right now.”
Polis said he is going to look at other steps he can take to ease the burden on businesses. On Friday, for instance, he announced that the state suspend rules to allow restaurants offering takeout and delivery to sell alcohol to their customers.
There are nearly 277 confirmed coronavirus cases in Colorado. Four people have been killed by the disease.
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