Mar 24, 2023

Charles serves as CCLP's Income and Housing Policy Director using data and research to support our efforts to stand with diverse communities across Colorado in the fight against poverty. Staff page ›

Recent articles

CCLP’s 2024 legislative wrap-up, part 2

CCLP's 2024 legislative wrap-up focused on expanding access to justice, removing administrative burden, supporting progressive tax and wage policies, preserving affordable communities, and reducing health care costs. Part 2/2.

CCLP’s 2024 legislative wrap-up, part 1

CCLP's 2024 legislative wrap-up focused on expanding access to justice, removing administrative burden, supporting progressive tax and wage policies, preserving affordable communities, and reducing health care costs.

Pro-Tenant Bills in the 2023 Legislative Session, Part 2

by | Mar 24, 2023

This is the second of two articles related to the Pro-Tenant Bills in the 2023 Legislative Session. To read Part 1, please click here.

 

Rent Stabilization 

These protections on their own cannot fully protect renters from being displaced when their rent increases beyond their means to pay. HB23-1115 Repeal Rent Control Prohibition would help renters by allowing local governments to adopt new tools to help stabilize rents and maintain the affordability of naturally occurring affordable housing (or NOAH).  These policies have been shown to slow the displacement of low-income families and families of color. According to a recent report from United for a New Economy (UNE) and the Colorado Fiscal Institute (CFI), a study of rent stabilization policies in California cities found that Los Angeles experienced a 37% decrease in the number of renters who moved, with even greater declines for Black and Latinx renters. In Santa Monica, rent stabilization led to a doubling of the proportion of tenants living in their unit for more than five years. Looking at Colorado, the gross median rent paid by a renter household increased by an average annual rate of 4.4% between 2019 and 2021, according to the Census Bureau’s 1-year American Community Survey. Over this same period, the median income for a renter household increased by 1.2% per year. This data shows that, without a major increase in the incomes of renter households, rent stabilization policies will be powerful tools for ensuring the growth of rents in our state does not outpace the ability of Colorado renters to pay. 

While rent stabilization can be an effective policy for helping tenants by slowing the rate rents can go up at the end of their lease, this policy does not have the direct effect of lowering a tenant’s rent. For instance, if a tenant is already paying 50% of their income towards housing costs, a rent stabilization policy might help keep rental costs from going up too fast, but it does not bring the rent down to an affordable level (i.e., where the household spends 30% or less of their income on housing). This speaks to the need to increase the supply of affordable housing in Colorado, particularly for households at the lowest end of the area median income (AMI) spectrum. And the needs at this end of the AMI spectrum are extreme. The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s analysis of 2020 5-year ACS microdata found that for every 100 extremely low-income renter households (households with incomes at or below 30% of AMI), there were only 29 affordable units available in Colorado. For very low-income households (households within incomes of 50% of AMI or below), there were only 49 units for every 100 renter households.  

 

Affordable Housing

Besides the funding provided by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and Proposition 123, HB23-1190 Affordable Housing Right of First Refusal will give local governments the option to expand their stock of housing affordable to moderate and low-income Coloradans. For properties within their jurisdictions, the bill gives local governments the opportunity to have the first pass to buy any multifamily or mixed-use property with five or more units in urban counties or three or more units in rural counties put up for sale. Qualifying properties would also include any property that is currently supported by public funds and is subject to one or more restricted-use covenant, such as housing built through the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program. Properties purchased in this way must remain affordable to households under specific AMI levels, depending on the county, and for a period of 100 years. Local governments may assign its right of first refusal to the state, to any political subdivisions, or to any housing authority in the state so long as they follow the same commitments to using the property as long-term affordable housing. Local governments may also partner with non-profit organizations to finance the purchase of any property that comes up for sale in their jurisdiction.  

 

In addition to providing an overview of the pro-tenant bills under consideration at the legislature this year, we hope this overview of bills also demonstrates how important it is to address our state’s housing crisis from many different angles and through a diversity of strategies. No one solution will be the perfect fix for all our housing challenges, and oftentimes, the effectiveness of one policy can be strengthened with another, such as pairing legal representation of tenants in eviction court with policies that make it easier for tenants to attend court remotely, or by preventing our state’s rental housing prices from skyrocketing beyond the reach of low-income tenants while funding the purchase of existing or construction of new units that are affordable to renters on the lower end of the AMI spectrum.  

Colorado Center on Law and Policy supports all the bills highlighted in this post and applauds our partners who are leading the charge on these efforts. We encourage our supporters to contact their legislators to urge them to support these pro-tenant bills. Not sure who represents you in the Colorado House of Representatives or Senate? The General Assembly has a tool that allows you to look-up your legislators using your address: https://leg.colorado.gov/find-my-legislator. You can also use the links below to check the latest status of each of these bills, including when and where the bill will be heard in a committee. 

 

Click here for the list of 2023 Tenant Protection Legislation.

Recent articles

CCLP’s 2024 legislative wrap-up, part 2

CCLP's 2024 legislative wrap-up focused on expanding access to justice, removing administrative burden, supporting progressive tax and wage policies, preserving affordable communities, and reducing health care costs. Part 2/2.

CCLP’s 2024 legislative wrap-up, part 1

CCLP's 2024 legislative wrap-up focused on expanding access to justice, removing administrative burden, supporting progressive tax and wage policies, preserving affordable communities, and reducing health care costs.

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.