Oct 25, 2021

Recent articles

CCLP testifies in support of Clean Slate updates

Bethany Pray, CCLP’s Chief Legal and Policy Officer, provided testimony in support of House Bill 24-1133, Criminal Record Sealing & Expungement Changes. CCLP is in support of HB24-1133, as it is one of our priority bills.

CCLP testifies in support of TANF grant rule change

CCLP's Emeritus Advisor, Chaer Robert, provided written testimony in support of the CDHS rule on the COLA increase for TANF recipients. If the rule is adopted, the cost of living increase would go into effect on July 1, 2024.

CCLP statement of opposition on Denver Ballot Measure 2F

Denver voters will be asked to weigh in on several ballot measures during the upcoming election on November 2, 2021. Among them will be ballot measure 2F, also known as “Safe and Sound Denver.” Despite its laudable name, Colorado Center on Law and Policy urges Denver voters to vote NO on 2F. This ballot measure would repeal important changes to Denver’s zoning code that expanded the number of unrelated adults who could live in a single-family home from 2 to 5 while simultaneously revising the way Denver regulates and approves the development of new residential care facilities. We believe that repealing these changes will only hurt our most vulnerable neighbors and make it even more difficult for our fellow Denverites to find affordable places to live.

Why is 2F on the Ballot?

Starting in March 2018, the City and County of Denver began a 3-year public process to revise the city’s outdated group living regulations. After establishing an advisory committee, holding over 60 public meetings, presentations, and open houses, the proposed regulations were reviewed and approved by Denver’s Planning Board in mid-2020 and by the City Council in February 2021.

Throughout the process, City staff made revisions and compromises to address concerns raised by community members, including limiting the number of unrelated adults who could live in a single-family home to 5 and restricting community corrections facilities from being located in single-family residential neighborhoods.

Despite the zoning changes passing with large majorities, an opposition group calling themselves “Safe and Sound Denver” collected enough signatures to place the repeal of this amendment on November’s ballot. While claiming to be made up of concerned residents and neighbors, this group has raised almost all of its money from Defend Colorado, a dark money political advocacy group that refuses to disclose their donors. In other words, the primary financial backer of 2F is a group that does not want the public to know what interests they truly represent.

Why did Denver Initiate These Amendments?

You might be surprised to learn that the City and County of Denver defines what a “family” is in their zoning code. Before this year, a family was defined based on blood relation. Not only that, but these definitions were written in the 1950s, a period when social and cultural norms were very different from today. For example, under Denver’s previous regulations, it was illegal for a married couple to live with their adult-age adopted son or daughter in their single-family home, duplex, or townhome—they were not considered a family.

CCLP does not believe it is the role of Denver’s zoning code to decide who we can consider a member of our family—that is a personal decision that is best left up to individuals to define for themselves. Furthermore, given Denver’s high housing costs, it makes sense that three or four unrelated adults might try to live together in a single-family home, duplex, or townhome and share living expenses. Such an arrangement was not legally permitted in Denver until the group living amendment was adopted earlier this year. Many living arrangements permitted under current law would become illegal if 2F passes.

In addition, the amendment changed the way the zoning code regulates large residential care uses. These range from senior living facilities to community corrections facilities that help those released from the criminal justice system to reintegrate into society (with supervision of Denver Police Department and/or the Denver Sheriff).

As a result of stereotypes and safety concerns unsupported by evidence, the previous rules made it nearly impossible to build many types of new residential care facilities. Many existing facilities for these uses are concentrated in low-income neighborhoods and neighborhoods of color, even though all city residents benefit from these sorts of uses.

The code now regulates these uses based on the number of people who would be living in the facilities, instead of based on the population served by the facility. The amendment also expanded the areas where new residential care facilities could be built, but notably prohibited community corrections facilities from locating in single-family zoned neighborhoods in response to residents’ concerns. Despite this concession, “Safe and Sound Denver” and their supporters continue to use the false specter of released criminals moving en masse into our neighborhoods as a scare tactic to coerce Denverites to vote for this measure.

Why Vote “No” on Measure 2F?

We oppose ballot measure 2F because it will significantly harm our neighbors. Preventing more than two unrelated adults from living in a single-family home, the predominant housing type in our city, will only serve to exacerbate existing housing challenges and make it illegal for households made up of 3 or more unrelated adults to live together. We expect the direct result of this measure to be more of our neighbors forced out of the safe homes they will no longer be able to afford.

Voting yes on 2F will also mean that the code reverts to its 1950s-era definition of who you can consider part of your family, potentially preventing your family from legally living together if yours does not meet this outdated definition.

Finally, 2F will make it harder to build many types of residential care facilities, including shelters for people experiencing homelessness, despite the need for such uses in our city. The capacity of some homeless shelters could be reduced, and it would be harder to improve existing shelters or build new ones. Many existing residential care facilities are isolated from services like transit, health care, and employment, making it that much more difficult for residents to access the services and job opportunities they need to get back on their feet.

Our city faces many pressing challenges that will only be harder to address if 2F passes. This ballot measure offers no solutions to the problems Denver’s group living amendment was designed to address. Instead, its proponents have used fearmongering to mislead residents of Denver as to the facts of the amendment. We urge all Denverites to learn more about this ballot initiative and to vote NO on 2F this November.

You can learn more about the group living amendment by going to the dedicated page on the website of the City and County of Denver: https://www.denvergov.org/Government/Agencies-Departments-Offices/Community-Planning-and-Development/Denver-Zoning-Code/Text-Amendments/Group-Living

Recent articles

CCLP testifies in support of Clean Slate updates

Bethany Pray, CCLP’s Chief Legal and Policy Officer, provided testimony in support of House Bill 24-1133, Criminal Record Sealing & Expungement Changes. CCLP is in support of HB24-1133, as it is one of our priority bills.

CCLP testifies in support of TANF grant rule change

CCLP's Emeritus Advisor, Chaer Robert, provided written testimony in support of the CDHS rule on the COLA increase for TANF recipients. If the rule is adopted, the cost of living increase would go into effect on July 1, 2024.

HEALTH:
HEALTH FIRST COLORADO (MEDICAID)

To maintain health and well-being, people of all ages need access to quality health care that improves outcomes and reduces costs for the community. Health First Colorado, the state's Medicaid program, is public health insurance for low-income Coloradans who qualify. The program is funded jointly by a federal-state partnership and is administered by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing.

Benefits of the program include behavioral health, dental services, emergency care, family planning services, hospitalization, laboratory services, maternity care, newborn care, outpatient care, prescription drugs, preventive and wellness services, primary care and rehabilitative services.

In tandem with the Affordable Care Act, Colorado expanded Medicaid eligibility in 2013 - providing hundreds of thousands of adults with incomes less than 133% FPL with health insurance for the first time increasing the health and economic well-being of these Coloradans. Most of the money for newly eligible Medicaid clients has been covered by the federal government, which will gradually decrease its contribution to 90% by 2020.

Other populations eligible for Medicaid include children, who qualify with income up to 142% FPL, pregnant women with household income under 195% FPL, and adults with dependent children with household income under 68% FPL.

Some analyses indicate that Colorado's investment in Medicaid will pay off in the long run by reducing spending on programs for the uninsured.

FOOD SECURITY:
SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (SNAP)

Hunger, though often invisible, affects everyone. It impacts people's physical, mental and emotional health and can be a culprit of obesity, depression, acute and chronic illnesses and other preventable medical conditions. Hunger also hinders education and productivity, not only stunting a child's overall well-being and academic achievement, but consuming an adult's ability to be a focused, industrious member of society. Even those who have never worried about having enough food experience the ripple effects of hunger, which seeps into our communities and erodes our state's economy.

Community resources like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, exist to ensure that families and individuals can purchase groceries, with the average benefit being about $1.40 per meal, per person.

Funding for SNAP comes from the USDA, but the administrative costs are split between local, state, and federal governments. Yet, the lack of investment in a strong, effective SNAP program impedes Colorado's progress in becoming the healthiest state in the nation and providing a better, brighter future for all. Indeed, Colorado ranks 44th in the nation for access to SNAP and lost out on more than $261 million in grocery sales due to a large access gap in SNAP enrollment.

See the Food Assistance (SNAP) Benefit Calculator to get an estimate of your eligibility for food benefits.

FOOD SECURITY:
SPECIAL SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION PROGRAM FOR WOMEN, INFANTS AND CHILDREN (WIC)

Every child deserves the nutritional resources needed to get a healthy start on life both inside and outside the mother's womb. In particular, good nutrition and health care is critical for establishing a strong foundation that could affect a child's future physical and mental health, academic achievement and economic productivity. Likewise, the inability to access good nutrition and health care endangers the very integrity of that foundation.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition information for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Research has shown that WIC has played an important role in improving birth outcomes and containing health care costs, resulting in longer pregnancies, fewer infant deaths, a greater likelihood of receiving prenatal care, improved infant-feeding practices, and immunization rates

Financial Security:
Colorado Works

In building a foundation for self-sufficiency, some Colorado families need some extra tools to ensure they can weather challenging financial circumstances and obtain basic resources to help them and their communities reach their potential.

Colorado Works is Colorado's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and provides public assistance to families in need. The Colorado Works program is designed to assist participants in becoming self-sufficient by strengthening the economic and social stability of families. The program provides monthly cash assistance and support services to eligible Colorado families.

The program is primarily funded by a federal block grant to the state. Counties also contribute about 20% of the cost.

EARLY LEARNING:
COLORADO CHILD CARE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (CCCAP)

Child care is a must for working families. Along with ensuring that parents can work or obtain job skills training to improve their families' economic security, studies show that quality child care improves children's academic performance, career development and health outcomes.

Yet despite these proven benefits, low-income families often struggle with the cost of child care. Colorado ranks among the top 10 most expensive states in the country for center-based child care. For families with an infant, full-time enrollment at a child care center cost an average of $15,140 a year-or about three-quarters of the total income of a family of three living at the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

The Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) provides child care assistance to parents who are working, searching for employment or participating in training, and parents who are enrolled in the Colorado Works Program and need child care services to support their efforts toward self-sufficiency. Most of the money for CCCAP comes from the federal Child Care and Development Fund. Each county can set their own income eligibility limit as long as it is at or above 165% of the federal poverty level and does not exceed 85% of area median income.

Unfortunately, while the need is growing, only an estimated one-quarter of all eligible children in the state are served by CCCAP. Low reimbursement rates have also resulted in fewer providers willing to accept CCCAP subsidies.