Jan 31, 2020

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.

Scorecard report reveals racial disparities

In the most recent Prosperity Now Scorecard report, Colorado placed No. 12 in the nation – moving up two spots from 2019. Although the state fared well in the overall prosperity rankings (No. 8 out of 51), its low racial disparity ranking (No. 37) indicates a higher economic status of white Coloradans compared to Coloradans of color. Still, while the state’s racial disparity ranking is low, it is an improvement from last year’s ranking of No. 42.

Prosperity Now is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to ensure everyone in our country has a clear path to financial stability, wealth and prosperity. To assist state organizations like CCLP, Prosperity Now uses a list of indicators to rank states on the economic prosperity of residents. This scorecard, released annually, also considers the level of racial disparity between residents who are white and residents of color, which Prosperity Now uses to create an overall “scorecard” rank.

Taking a closer look at outcomes, the Scorecard shows that 51.3 percent of all Colorado renters spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent per month. Families who pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing are considered cost-burdened and may have difficulty paying for expenses such as food, medical care and transportation.

The Scorecard shows that 49.7 percent of white Coloradans were cost-burdened compared to 63 percent of black Coloradans, 55.7 percent of Latinx Coloradans and 67.5 percent of Indigenous peoples. Although Coloradans of all demographics feel the strain of paying rent each month, the burden is disproportionately felt by Coloradans of color who make up about 16 percent of the state’s population. Historically, people of color have experienced discrimination in the housing and labor markets, in educational opportunity and in accessing loans and mortgages. Such discrimination limits the earning potential of people of color and prevents families from achieving upward economic mobility and accompanying financial security, thereby reinforcing significant racial disparities in wealth.

Prosperity Now recommends a slew of policies to address racial disparities and advance the overall economic prosperity of all Coloradans. One such policy suggestion is to protect participants in the Housing Choice Voucher program (HCV, also known as Section 8) by criminalizing discrimination of tenants based on their source of income. This would increase opportunities for renters to find adequate housing, which would be particularly helpful for Coloradans of color who make up more than half of voucher holders and, as the Prosperity Now scorecard shows, are disproportionately affected by high rental housing costs.

A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) found that landlords rejected 77 percent of vouchers in jurisdictions without non-discrimination laws, compared to 35 percent of vouchers in jurisdictions with such protections. Additional studies by HUD show that such laws improve voucher holders’ ability to find housing in high-opportunity areas, potentially placing them and their families on a more stable path to financial security.

During the 2020 legislative session, CCLP is joining with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and other partners to support a measure that would ensure a person’s source of income does not preclude them from accessing housing, including mobile homes. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Leslie Herod, Rep. Dominique Jackson, and Sen. Rhonda Fields and will be introduced to the legislature soon.

To effectively address historic trends, policies and laws which have encouraged racial discrimination in the U.S., we must openly stand behind measures which support Coloradans of color. This bill is just one of over a dozen policies Prosperity Now suggests states adopt to support economic prosperity and to close racial economic disparities in Colorado. Supporting policies such as protections for Section 8 voucher-holders will place all Coloradans on a path to economic prosperity.

The Prosperity Now scorecard is available as a resource to advocates who are interested in educating themselves and others about legislative measures, economic prosperity, and racial disparities on the state and local levels.

– By Alex Hawes

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.


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.