Bipartisan bill would, for the first time, provide state support to homeless youth services providers

HB20-1122, sponsored by Representatives Edie Hooten and Colin Larson, today passed the House Committee on Public Health and Human Services. The bill passed 13-0.

“With nearly 10,000 vulnerable homeless youth across our state, it’s time for Colorado to put some skin in the game and finally fund the programs that we know will help,” said Rep. Edie Hooton (D-Boulder). “Our youth deserve access to the critical services, such as supportive housing and emergency shelters that we know can make a real dent in reducing the number of youth experiencing homelessness.”

Youth experiencing homelessness may face health and safety risks, sexual abuse, human trafficking, and exposure to drugs and alcohol. During the 2017-2018 school year, 23,089 students in Colorado experienced homelessness at some point, according to the Colorado Department of Education.

Currently, Colorado’s five nonprofit homeless youth services providers are funded mostly through private donations and federal grant funding. They do not receive funding from the state to provide critical services, such as community outreach, drop-in centers, emergency shelters, and transitional living programs.

The bill would create the Services for Youth Experiencing or At Risk of Experiencing Homelessness Grant Program in the Division of Housing under the Department of Local Affairs. The maximum grant would be $125,000 per organization, and the grants would be available to the five nonprofit youth services providers currently operating in the state and would be funded from the Division of Housing’s Housing Development Grant Fund.

The grants would fund programs that provide direct services to youth experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. It specifies the services the organizations may provide, including street outreach, criteria for emergency shelters, and supportive housing and transitional living programs.

The bill is supported by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, Spark Community Foundation, Urban Peak, The Place, One Colorado, Attention Homes, Shiloh Home, Karis Inc. and Volunteers of America.