House Directs Funding to Domestic Violence, Seniors, and Workforce Programs

DENVER– The House today passed legislation to allocate American Rescue Act Funds to programs that serve survivors of domestic violence, seniors, and programs that help provide workers with the tools they need to find good jobs. 

“One of the most troubling and heartbreaking consequences of the pandemic was that it put victims of domestic violence in even greater danger,” said Rep. Monica Duran, D-Wheat Ridge, sponsor of SB21-292. “As a survivor of domestic violence, I know firsthand how dire the need to fund support programs already was before the pandemic began. The federal funds we received this year gave us a unique opportunity to provide successful programs a boost and give survivors the support they need and deserve.” 

Sponsored by Representatives Monica Duran and Terri Carver, SB21-292, allocates $15 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to several different victims services programs that assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Among these programs are the Domestic Abuse Program in the Department of Human Services, the Forensic Nurse Examiner Telehealth Program in the Department of Public Safety, and the Victims and Witnesses Assistance and Law Enforcement Fund, which will make its way to each judicial district. The bill passed 54-9.

These programs help survivors hold property while keeping their addresses confidential and their homes secure, promote rapid rehousing so survivors can pay for the costs associated with moving, and provide flexible financial assistance for a variety of basic needs. Funds also pay for attorney fees in domestic violence court cases, and are channeled to anti-sexual assault and gender-based violence organizations across the state to provide community-based crisis intervention services and counseling.

“Colorado’s population is aging, and our seniors were among the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rep. Mary Young, D-Greeley, sponsor of SB21-290. “Building back stronger means ensuring that Coloradans of all ages have their basic needs met. The bill we passed today will help Colorado’s seniors stay housed, have better access to medical care, and obtain the nutrition support they need.” 

SB21-290, sponsored by Representatives Mary Young and Mary Bradfield, R-Colorado Springs, dedicates $15 million to support Colorado’s aging population. These funds will go towards a variety of senior-focused programs that will expand housing assistance, increase access to health services, subsidize nutrition programs, and improve transportation opportunities to medical appointments. The bill passed 50-13.

“I’m proud of the responsible and forward-thinking process we’ve created to allocate American Rescue Plan Act funds,” said Majority Leader Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo. “The recovery roadmap we developed will both help people in need now while also giving us time to seek input from experts and craft thoughtful proposals that will make the transformative changes our communities are asking for.”

SB21-288, which is sponsored by Majority Leader Esgar and Representative Alex Valdez and passed 42-21, creates the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) 2021 Cash Fund to hold the funding the state is receiving from the federal act. It also details how the fund will operate.

SB21-232 passed by a vote of 50-13. Sponsored by Representatives Cathy Kipp and Shannon Bird, the bill provides $15 million in grants through the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI), which is estimated to serve at least 3,000 Colorado workers across the state who have completed a portion of their higher education but have not earned a credential. The program was established last year to support workers through the worst months of the pandemic. These grants under COSI provide workers who were laid off or furloughed, experienced decreased wages, or had a job offer rescinded with the skills, supports and credentials necessary to secure good jobs. The bill also helps institutions of higher education scale high-demand programs, helping to sustain a resilient state economy.

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