Aug 13, 2017

Recent articles

Solving Problems: How CCLP Gets Stuff Done

by | Aug 13, 2017

What if you only had seven days to find a different place to live, pack up and move all of your possessions, relocate your family and enroll your kids in a new school? Unfortunately, in parts of Colorado where landlords know they can get higher rent from wealthier tenants, people with fewer resources find themselves in this predicament every day.

Before CCLP took action, landlords in many circumstances were only required to give tenants seven days’ notice before they raised the rent or terminated their lease. Those surviving on low wages and fixed incomes faced a high risk of homelessness under such arrangements.

An organization that represents low‐income Coloradans brought this problem to Colorado Center on Law and Policy’s attention last year after an elderly client on a fixed income received notice that rent for her apartment was increasing to an amount she could no longer afford. After doing some research, CCLP determined there was nothing to prevent this from happening to this client and thousands of other Colorado renters. Later, CCLP suggested legislation addressing the issue to Rep. Dan Pabon, D‐Denver, who was looking for ideas to mitigate the destabilizing effects of gentrification in Colorado neighborhoods.

Before starting the process of developing a bill, CCLP Executive Director Claire Levy asked CCLP Policy Associate Jack Regenbogen to look into landlord‐tenant laws in all 50 states. After spending a full week researching rental‐ notification statutes, Jack found that Colorado was among only three states that had such a short period of notice. That tidbit ended up being a major talking point in building support for legislation.

CCLP then began working on a bill to extend the notification period on month‐to‐month tenancies, but the bill was killed in a Senate committee. Gearing up for the 2017 session, Jack and other CCLP staff began building a diverse coalition, which included veterans, disability and senior advocates, members of the faith‐based community, the City and County of Denver and even a property‐management company. Jack woke up early many mornings to make the case for the bill to numerous organizations.

While developing the 2017 Notice to Quit bill, CCLP convinced the Colorado Apartment Association to go “neutral” on the proposal by compromising on the new notice period. Instead of requiring 28 days, which would have been far more desirable, we agreed just to require 21 days’ notice – still a three‐fold increase. Having averted opposition from the powerful apartment lobby, Sen. Kevin Priola, R‐Henderson, agreed to sponsor the legislation and was able to avoid having the bill sent to the “kill committee” in the Senate.

As a result of this collaborative effort, Senate Bill 245 passed with broad bipartisan support in the Colorado Senate. It also cleared the state House and was signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper.   As the story of SB 245 illustrates, getting legislation passed requires hard work, thorough research, ingenuity, strong relationships within the community and compromise. SB 245 is just one of several policy successes that CCLP cultivated this past session, each of which required similar effort.

-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.