Fed Stimulus Investments in Housing and Workforce Intro’d, State Parks $$ Advances

DENVER, CO — The House today introduced two bills that would allocate $550 million in federal stimulus dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act toward affordable housing and $50 million toward workforce development efforts. A third bill to allocate $25 million in federal stimulus funds to boost investments in Colorado state parks passed the House Energy and Environment Committee by a vote of 13-0. 

“We have a housing crisis in Colorado with too many hardworking people and families unable to find an affordable place to live,” said Rep. Serena Gonzales, D-Denver. “With these funds, we are going to make the transformational changes necessary to make affordable places to live a reality for more Coloradans. These historic investments will build thousands of housing units, break down barriers that make housing too expensive, and address homelessness in our communities.”

“Too many families are forced to choose between paying their rent or mortgage and basic household necessities,” said Rep. Steven Woodrow, D-Denver. “During the listening tour, we heard it loud and clear from communities across Colorado–they want us to put significant federal resources behind solving our housing crisis, and that’s what we’re doing. The legislature is going to channel over half a billion dollars into affordable housing efforts that will help Coloradans build wealth and vastly increase the availability of affordable housing stock in Colorado.” 

HB21-1329, sponsored by Representatives Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez and Steven Woodrow, channels  $550 million in federal stimulus funds toward affordable housing efforts. It immediately invests $100 million of that funding to help Coloradans who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic obtain affordable housing. The bill requires a broad and diverse stakeholder process during the interim that will develop and make recommendations to the General Assembly for how to allocate the remaining $450 million. The funds will be used on programs or services that address housing insecurity, a lack of affordable housing or homelessness, including construction of new affordable housing units, housing and rental assistance programs and supportive housing programs. 

“Colorado’s economy is ready for take off, which is why we’re deploying significant federal resources to help workers gain the tools they’ll need to fill good jobs and power the Colorado Comeback,” said Rep. Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon. “Boosting funding for the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative will help thousands of Colorado workers learn the skills and attain the credentials or certificates they need to secure good jobs and thrive.”

HB21-1330, sponsored by Representative Julie McCluskie and Naqueeta Ricks, uses federal funds to provide a $50 million boost to the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative in order to increase access to robust pathways for workers to obtain news skills, earn higher wages and be prepared for the in-demand careers of the future. The bill seeks to rebuild and revitalize the state’s workforce by supporting students to complete their postsecondary credentials. The funding boost will be used to reverse the significant decline in enrollment in public higher education institutions, high rates of job loss and continuing unemployment, and the overall disruption to the workforce caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Funding allocated under HB21-1330 will provide direct and indirect support to students to incentivize them to complete degree and credential programs, assist in navigating career options and address equity gaps in higher education and the workforce. A portion of the funds will be used for scholarships and financial assistance. Under the bill, higher education institutions will develop student assistance plans that describe how they will spend their allocation to assist students in enrolling, persisting and completing the program.

“After a busy season last year and with an even busier season expected this year, Coloradans and tourists are flocking to our state parks,” said Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango. “The infrastructure at our state parks just cannot keep up. That’s why we’re investing $25 million in federal funds to improve our state parks, enhance backcountry safety programs and conserve the wildlife and nature that are exposed to more and more visitors each year.” 

HB21-1326, which passed the House Energy and Environment Committee by a vote of X-X, is sponsored by Representatives Barbara McLachlan and Perry Will. It would invest $25 million in federal funds to improve Colorado state parks. The bill provides:

  • $750,000 to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center to support backcountry avalanche safety programs;
  • $3.5 million to the Division of Parks and Wildlife to implement its statewide wildlife action plan and the conservation of native species;
  • $2.25 million to the search and rescue fund for use by the Department of Local Affairs in consultation with the division to support backcountry search and rescue efforts;
  • $1 million to the outdoor equity fund for use by the division to implement the outdoor equity grant program; 
  • $17.5 million for state park staffing and maintenance and infrastructure and development projects.

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