May 1, 2017

Recent articles

Legislative Update: May 1, 2017

by | May 1, 2017

Bill to Watch: HB 1354
If you’re a mobile homeowner in Colorado and you failed to pay your annual property taxes, your county treasurer is required to sell the outstanding tax lien at public auction to the highest bidder. If you are among the thousands who live in mobile home communities and do not own the land under your home and fail to pay the back taxes within one year, the person who bought your tax lien can file for ownership of your property and legally remove you from your home.

Historically, few, if any, people who purchase tax liens have actually filed for ownership rights after the one-year redemption period has closed. Recently, however, mobile homes have become appreciating assets because of Colorado’s affordable housing shortage across the state. Meanwhile, tax lien purchasers have begun taking ownership of these homes and reselling them for far more than they initially invested. Some investors have bought these mobile homes for as little as $63, evicted the current resident and then resold that home for a considerable profit.

House Bill 1354, sponsored by Rep. KC Becker, D-Boulder, and Sens. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, and John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, seeks to abate this practice. Specifically, the bill removes the requirement that the county treasurers must sell the tax liens when taxes have not been paid. The proposal gives county treasurers the authority to prioritize which delinquent mobile-home taxes they should collect. This much-needed authority would allow county treasures to protect Colorado’s most-vulnerable mobile homeowners.

While CCLP is concerned that this bill does not address some of the reasons why mobile home owners get into this situation, we support this legislation because it may help keep people from losing their homes over a relatively small amount of unpaid taxes. Regardless of whether the bill becomes law, we will continue to work with stakeholders to search for a comprehensive solution to this problem.

Last Wednesday, HB 1354 was unanimously approved by the House Local Government Committee. We look forward to supporting this bill as it makes its way through the legislature.

Happenings on the Hill
This week has been busy for the CCLP staff. For those keeping score:

* Last Monday, the House approved HB 1305, the Chance to Compete Act. HB 1305 prohibits most employers from asking about criminal history on initial job applications – giving more Coloradans a chance to be considered on their own merits and to build financial security for themselves and their families through a life-changing job. The bill, which now moves to the Senate, was recently endorsed by the Colorado Department of Corrections.

* Also last Monday, the House approved HB 1310, which limits the application fee a landlord may charge a prospective tenant to the amount necessary to cover actual costs for a personal reference check, consumer credit report or tenant-screening report. 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.

* HB 1312, another CCLP-developed bill, was approved by the House Local Government Committee on Wednesday. HB 1312 requires landlords to give renters a copy of their lease and a receipt for rent payments made with cash or a money order. The legislation moves to the House floor.

Keep track CCLP’s activities at the end of the session by liking our Facebook page or following us on Twitter.

-By Bob Mook

Recent articles

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.