Apr 6, 2016

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MHC Updates

by | Apr 6, 2016

MHC Grant Fund

We are excited to release our funding guidelines for the Equitable Initiatives in The Denver Region grant fund for 2016. The deadline for applications is June 1, 2016, 5:00 MT.

We will offer two grant application workshops in 2016. Workshops are open to organizations and groups interested in learning more about the application process; please note that attending a grant workshop is not a requirement of the overall grant application process. Please RSVP to Davian Gagne, Grants & Operations Manager at dgagne@denverfoundation.org with your name and contact information of staff members interested in attending, and indicate which workshop you would like to attend.

  • Wednesday, April 20, 2016 | 10:00 am – 12:00 pm | United Church of Montbello | 4879 Crown Blvd., Denver
  • Thursday, May 5, 2016 | 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm | UFCW Union Hall | 7760 West 38th Ave., Wheat Ridge

Affordable Housing & Community Facilities

The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) has hired Beth Truby into a new Preservation Program Manager position. The program manager will work closely with CHFA staff and external stakeholders to develop a long term strategy and action plan for identifying, prioritizing, and preserving critical affordable housing units statewide. This position will serve as a connection with the Preservation Working Group (CHFA, HUD, DOH, DHA, City of Denver, Enterprise, the Piton Foundation, and Mile High Connects) and other key housing stakeholders working on specific preservation activities and transactions.  Beth brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and relationships to this role, having previously worked for the City of Denver for over 25 years managing a variety of community development and housing programs. MHC is thrilled to have Beth in this role and is grateful to CHFA for its commitment to preserving affordable housing.

First & Last Mile Connections

As communities work to solve issues related to transit, it becomes incumbent to engage with a variety of partners. Even a seemingly “simple” problem may require the participation of many different groups to arrive at a satisfactory, comprehensive solution. As Montebello residents wrestle with the closure of the existing Park and Ride near Peoria Street and Allbrook Street, many different factors come into play as RTD makes a decision about where to locate the new bus stop. Chief among these are how to provide the most efficient service to neighborhood residents who depend on this stop to access the transit service on which they depend while ensuring their safety. Other factors include pedestrian safety and accessibility, crime deterrence, traffic management and adequate access for safety vehicles. In an effort to encourage collaboration among all interests in addressing as many of these concerns as possible, Denver City Councilwoman Debbie Ortega convened a meeting of major stakeholders including Montbello Organizing Committee members, RTD, Denver Police Department, staff representing City Councilwoman Stacie Gillmore, and management from the Village Apartment complex near the stop. High-level leaders from these organizations attended the meeting including RTD General Manager Dave Genova and Denver Police Department District 5 Commander Ron Thomas. A week after this meeting, members of the group met with representatives from Denver Public Works and Denver Fire Department Station 27 to discuss infrastructure problems and possible solutions. This process marks a major step in creating a solution that meets all needs. More importantly, it serves as a model for collaborative problem-solving that can serve as a model moving forward.

Affordable Fares & Meaningful Service Routes 

King County Sees Success in First Year of Affordable Fares

Last March, King County Washington and the Seattle area launched an innovative program called ORCA LIFT, one of the first comprehensive income-based fare programs in the county.

Chris Arkills, Transportation Policy Advisor to the King County Executive gave presentations to a variety of stakeholders including the Mile High Connects Advisory Council, Affordable Fares Task Force, RTD Board and staff and other interested elected officials. Said Arkills, “we built it into the cost of doing business. We’re a region that prioritizes equity and we know that it was the right thing to do.”

Among key findings at the program’s one year anniversary:

  • In February, 25,000 riders registered for the ORCA LIFT program. King County has been seeing steady growth in the program’s popularity, with approximately 2,000 more riders signing up very month.
  • 96% of program participants are satisfied with the program
  • People are using the card – there were almost 350,000 boardings by ORCA LIFT riders in February alone
  • 42% have increased ridership
  • ORCA LIFT riders are not putting additional pressure on the system by making buses and rail too crowded. Because people frequently ride during the day or work swing shifts, increases in ridership have been seen primarily at times that transit is running under capacity

 We thank Chris for joining us and providing us with such an interesting learning opportunity.

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.