Finally, Colorado makes historic investments in resolving homelessness
These legislative measures could go a long way in providing the most meaningful solutions to the homelessness crisis the state has ever seen
The Colorado State Capitol dome peeks above the foliage at Civic Center Park on June 11, 2020. (Andy Bosselman for Newsline)
There’s excitement for advocates like me who are focused on resolving and preventing homelessness for the far too many Coloradans forced to experience it.
First, the state House overwhelmingly passed on a bipartisan vote of 54-8 House Bill 22-1083, which provides an expansion to a tax credit program to nonprofit providers who create programs and projects for people experiencing homelessness. The homelessness contribution tax credit will incentivize private and local investments in homelessness prevention and resolution projects and programs by nonprofit organizations by offering a 25% tax credit to those investors. It has proven to be very successful in the past.
GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX
Then, on Monday, the governor and many legislative champions announced an over $200 million investment package from American Rescue Plan Act funds for homelessness resolution, services and supports across the state of Colorado. That package included what is now House Bill 22-1377, which creates a $105 million grant program for local communities to apply directly to the Division of Housing within the Department of Local Affairs to support projects and programs that can be responsive to their local needs. These funds can be used for street outreach programs, shelter, transitional housing, permanent supportive housing and many other interventions that are proven solutions to ensuring that any experience of homelessness is brief and quickly resolvable.
As the vice chair of the subpanel to the Affordable Housing Transformational Task Force, I heard several themes over and over again about how to best spend American Rescue Plan Act funds on housing and homelessness. The first was that, to the extent possible, funds should be leveraged off other programs to make sure our investments can have maximum impact by using multiple funding sources. The second theme was to encourage public-private partnerships at the local community level to maximize the impact of limited public funds with local community and philanthropic support. The third theme was to make the dollars stretch as far and long as possible with a preference for opportunities to re-invest or recycle the funds.
Colorado is laying the groundwork for meaningful homelessness resolution plans that will not only be transformational for people’s lives, but that meet all of the suggested attributes for how to best spend ARPA funds.
With the passage of HB-1083 in the House (and a positive outlook in the Senate) as well as the introduction of HB-1377, Colorado is laying the groundwork for meaningful homelessness resolution plans that will not only be transformational for people’s lives, but that meet all of the suggested attributes for how to best spend ARPA funds.
Aligning HB-1377 funds with projects that are subsidized, in part, with tax credits from HB-1083 ensures funds (1) are leveraged with each other to the greatest extent possible, (2) encourage public-private partnerships and local community investments, and (3) the tax credit will maximize the value and long-term impact of the one-time funds.
Check, check, check.
I am optimistic that these two investments are going to go a long way in providing the most meaningful solutions to Colorado’s homelessness crisis that we have ever seen. We have the chance to make homelessness rare, brief and quickly resolvable with these initiatives for the far too many families and individuals experiencing it across Colorado. It is so encouraging to see the governor’s office and our elected leaders engage and partner with local communities and nonprofits who have been working for decades to prevent and resolve homelessness in a very under-resourced environment.
As as we watched our unhoused community suffer from a disproportionate impact of the COVID pandemic, aligned with all the other historical barriers they were already facing in accessing housing, health care, recovery services, and meaningful opportunities to integrate into community, I think we all knew we could wait no longer to act.
Colorado has a chance with the two initiatives, not just to address the COVID impacts, but to begin to reduce these historical barriers that have prevented so many of our neighbors from being able to access safe spaces for sheltering and pathways to housing.
SUPPORT NEWS YOU TRUST.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.