Apr 26, 2022

An expert in policy advocacy and coalition building, Chaer has dedicated her career to helping people meet their basic needs and expanding economic opportunity. She serves on the executive committee of the All Families Deserve a Chance (AFDC) coalition. 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.

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.

Somewhere, a place for us…

by | Apr 26, 2022

The average social security check is $1,657 per month. Social Security is the largest source of income for most retirees. Nationally, 12% of men and 15% of women rely on Social Security alone for at least 90 per cent of their income.

People are considered “rent burdened” if they pay more than 30% of their income for rent. Thirty percent of that average Social Security Check would be $497 per month. If people are paying more than half their income for rent, they are considered “extremely rent burdened.” Their housing costs crowd out other basic needs. Those living on an average social security check are extremely rent burdened if they pay more than $829 per month for housing.

The limitations are even more severe for people receiving Social Security Disability, or those with lifelong disabilities living on Supplemental Security Income. But finding housing at rent that older adults, people with significant disabilities and even minimum wage workers can afford is becoming harder with every passing year. As CCLP’s Charles Brennan reported last week, between 2010 and 2019, Colorado lost 41% of rentals under $600 per month. In 2010, 19.5% of Colorado’s rentals had rents under $600. By 2019, only 10% of units rented for under $600.*

Mobile home parks can offer Coloradans affordable, stable, and tight-knit communities. Older adults, people with disabilities, and Latinx Coloradans disproportionately live in manufactured housing. While most people own their own mobile homes (and rent the lot it sits on, if they are in a mobile home park), 29% of mobile homes are renter occupied.

Mobile homes made up about 1 in 10 of low-cost rental units in 2019. That year, 39% of mobile home rentals had rents under $600. Meanwhile, even those who own their own homes increasingly report lot rent alone exceeding this threshold. When lot rents jump by bounds, even those who own their homes can be priced out of their long-time communities overnight.

Homeowners living in mobile home parks face another risk. When owners sell parks for redevelopment, homeowners risk losing their biggest asset, if their home cannot be moved, if they cannot afford moving costs, or if there is nowhere to move it. If communities can be destroyed in a heartbeat, and scattered without a viable chance to make a counteroffer, then not only have residents lost, but Colorado has lost.

Manufactured housing can be part of the answer for our affordable housing crisis. But viability and attractiveness of that sector relies on preserving or creating communities with predictable costs, or long-term leases and promoting resident ownership of their own communities whenever possible.

Beginning last summer, Representative Andrew Boesenecker began meeting with residents of Larimer County mobile home parks. Residents expressed their concerns and fears about losing their housing to displacement, or to large lot rent increases under new ownership. CCLP has long advocated for those who might own or rent their own home but did not own the land underneath it. We successfully fought to eliminate sales tax on new mobile homes. We also worked to ensure that tenant protections also apply to those who rent a mobile home. We advocated to establish a dispute resolution program in the Department of Local Affairs to address complaints by mobile home owners of violations by park owners of the Mobile Home Park Act. Finally, we advocated to establish an “opportunity to purchase” process for residents to be notified when the land underneath them goes up for sale, or when a park owner plans to change the use and close the park to allow a collective bid to match the offer.

This year a large coalition including CCLP, Colorado Poverty Law Project, 9to5 Colorado, Colorado Coalition Mobile Home Owners (CoCoMHO) and a number of local governments joined together to develop HB22-1287: Protection for Mobile Home Park Residents.

Among other things, this bill strengthens the Dispute Resolution Enforcement Program of the Mobile Home Park Act, and adjusts timelines and processes for park residents’ right to purchase — eliminating barriers and creating better opportunities for residents to match a sales offer and preserve their community.

This bill also would have capped yearly lot rent increases at the greater of 3% or inflation. Unfortunately, due to a veto threat of the entire bill by Governor Jared Polis, Rep. Boesenecker made the painful decision to amend out the lot rent stabilization section, despite likely having the votes in the legislature to pass it intact.

“This is the last amendment I wanted to offer, but we cannot have this bill vetoed,” Rep. Boesenecker said yesterday, given “so many good things in this bill that will protect residents.”

Indeed, even in its current form, the legislation now headed to the Senate could be Colorado’s last, best chance to protect this dwindling pool of affordable, private sector housing.

*Inflation adjusted, expressed in 2019 dollars, these were units that rented for $519 per month or less in 2010.

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.

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.

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.