Colorado Comeback Bills Hit the House Floor

Affordable housing, creative industries, and small businesses who hire former inmates to get significant boost under state stimulus bills advanced today

DENVER, CO– House committees today advanced three Colorado Comeback state stimulus proposals that would provide significant funding for affordable housing; offer grants to artists, venues, and Coloradans in the creative industries, and expand a program that creates jobs by helping formerly incarcerated individuals learn finance skills and start a business. 

Local governments are on the forefront of building affordable housing, but often lack the tools and resources to increase the available housing stock. HB21-1271, sponsored by Representatives McCluskie and Jodeh, provides $13 million in incentives and technical assistance to local governments to provide for the rapid deployment of affordable housing projects and to also ensure local communities have the tools and resources they need to help them identify and meet their unique housing needs. The bill passed the Transportation and Local Government Committee by a vote of 9-2. 

“Coloradans across the state continue to tell lawmakers that housing is too expensive and access to affordable places to live is becoming harder and harder to find,” said Rep. Iman Joden, D-Aurora. “I believe in the American Dream, and for many, secure and safe housing or homeownership is a part of realizing that dream. Allowing this dream to come to fruition shouldn’t be a luxury, but rather something within the reach of all. That’s why we’re giving local governments the tools they need to develop more affordable housing and offering financial incentives to make that happen.” 

“Many of our rural and mountain town economies depend on access to affordable housing as rising costs are forcing out long-time locals and making it harder for businesses to find workers,” said Rep. Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon. “We have an affordable housing crisis in Colorado and local governments need additional tools and funding to create more housing. I’m excited to see the legislature tackle this issue and take action to foster construction of more affordable places to live for Coloradans.”

HB21-1215, sponsored by Representatives Ortiz and Holtorf, expands an existing pilot program known as the Community Crime Prevention Initiative that provides grants to community-based organizations to reduce crime and recidivism and promote community economic development. The program also trains formerly incarcerated people in business, finance and entrepreneurship and those who graduate receive access to loans to start their own small business. The program was created by the bipartisan bill HB17-1326, establishing the pilot program in North Aurora and Southeast Colorado Springs. HB21-1215 expands the program sites to Grand Junction and Trinidad. The bill passed the Judiciary Committee by a vote of 6-5. 

“The Justice Reinvestment Crime Prevention Initiative has successfully created jobs and lowered recidivism rates because it focuses on community-led solutions to the root causes of crime,” said Rep. David Ortiz, D-Littleton. “Let’s keep up the good work! This bipartisan bill uses state stimulus funds to expand the program to Trinidad and Grand Junction to provide further opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals to learn business, finance, and entrepreneurship skills and find employment, reducing the chance they reoffend and return to prison.” 

Venues, artists, and so many other culturally vital organizations have struggled to make it through the last year. HB21-1285, sponsored by Representatives Benavidez and Herod, provides $10M to support artists and cultural organizations that have been impacted by COVID-19 throughout the state. This includes funding for the performance based film incentive, cultural facilities and the CO Creative Industries grant program set up during the 2020 special session. The bill passed the Business Affairs and Labor Committee by a vote of 8-5. 

“For community cultural centers and festivals, artists and so many others in Colorado’s creative economy, this last year has been devastating,” said Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, D-Commerce City. “Our state stimulus plan provides $10 million to help Coloradans in the arts industry get back on their feet, creating jobs in communities all across our state. I’m proud that this bill will target historically marginalized businesses and individuals to provide them the resources they need to recover financially and thrive.”

“The pandemic’s impact on concerts, art festivals, and so much more has meant lost income and wages for tens of thousands of Coloradans,” said Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver. “By boosting this critical industry, we can help Coloradans recover faster from the pandemic and build back stronger.” 

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