Apr 7, 2017

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Legislative Update: April 7, 2017

by | Apr 7, 2017

Relief for renters
Colorado’s growing population and booming economy have created an ideal market for landlords and property owners – often, at the expense of low- and middle-income renters. In recent years, the percentage of Coloradans who rent rather than own has increased. Many tenants struggle to find and maintain housing because rents are too high – leading to a rise in homelessness in many parts of the state.

While concrete policy solutions to the housing crisis remain elusive, a package being considered by Colorado legislators aims to remove some of the barriers that renters encounter. The legislation includes House Bill 1310, which limits the fee a landlord may charge a prospective tenant to cover actual costs for a personal reference check, consumer credit report or tenant-screening report.

A recent survey conducted by 9to5 Colorado showed that respondents reported fees as high as $145 per person — for the mere “privilege” of applying for a housing unit. These fees often far exceed the actual cost of screening applicants and are collected even when units aren’t available. HB 1310 requires landlords to provide an itemized receipt of actual expenses incurred and requires landlords to return unused portions of such fees to the applicants. Building upon the groundwork set by 9to5 Colorado, CCLP developed HB 1310, which is sponsored in the House by Reps. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood and Dominique Jackson, D-Aurora and in the Senate by Sen. Stephen Fenberg, D-Boulder. The bill was assigned to the House Finance Committee.

CCLP also developed another bill that could address a common problem that renters face: HB 1312 allows renters to receive a copy of a lease and a receipt for rent payments made with cash or a money order.

Current law does not require landlords to provide renters with either a copy of their lease or a receipt for rent paid. Such a lack of documentation leaves renters vulnerable to misunderstandings about the terms of their lease and lack of proof they paid their rent. Because is common for low-income renters to pay rent with cash or money order, there is no record of the transaction unless a landlord provides a receipt of payment. Many Colorado renters have been vulnerable to eviction or late charges because they were not able to prove that they had already paid rent – creating greater instability for those who are struggling to make ends meet.

These bills join other measures that enhance renters’ rights in Colorado, including Senate Bill 245, which extends the notification period for rent increases, or notices to vacate property, from seven to 21 days. Also developed by CCLP, SB 245 was approved by the Senate with strong bipartisan support and is heading to the House for its first hearing next week. CCLP supports other actions to address Colorado’s housing crisis, including a formal request to Legislative Council to create an interim committee to explore legislation to prevent homelessness and encourage development and preservation of affordable housing.

Bill to Watch: HB 1290
CCLP strongly supports House Bill 1290, the Colorado Secure Savings Plan. If passed, HB 1290 would begin the process of starting a statewide retirement account system and open up retirement savings options for the nearly half of Colorado workers who currently do not have access to a workplace retirement plan.

We believe that the path to self-sufficiency does not end one when turns 65. HB 1290 will help future Colorado seniors have more financial security in their retirement.

For more information on HB 1290, check out this fact sheet from the Bell Policy Center. The bill is up for hearing next Thursday, April 13, before the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee. Please call your state legislators at (844) 266-7972 and urge them to vote “yes” on this bill.

– Bob Mook

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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.


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.


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.


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.