Two Colorado Comeback bills to help local governments revitalize their communities and use underutilized hotels and motels to provide housing for the homeless
DENVER, CO– The House Transportation and Local Government Committee today approved two bills to revitalize our communities and provide transitional housing to individuals experiencing homelessness. These bills are a part of the Colorado Comeback state stimulus, a package of legislation that will invest roughly $800 million into helping Colorado recover faster and build back stronger.
“COVID 19 has made it clear how desperately Colorado needs to deal with our housing and homelessness crises directly,” said Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, D-Denver, sponsor of SB21-242. “Allowing local governments to convert underutilized hotels, motels, and perhaps holiday inns into sustainable dwellings for people experiencing homelessness is a creative and thoughtful way to start chipping away at these enormous issues.”
“We have a serious housing and homelessness issue in Colorado, and this is a common sense way to get people a roof over their heads,” said Rep. Steven Woodrow, D-Denver, sponsor of SB21-242. “COVID-19 has shown us that for so many Coloradans, the situation is dire. Building back stronger means facing our affordable housing issue head on.”
SB21-242 would expand the Housing Development Grant Fund to allow the funds to be used for tenancy support services, including those that target individuals experiencing homelessness. Specifically, this expansion will allow grants and loans to go to local governments and nonprofits to help them rent, acquire, or restore underutilized hotels or motels to provide immediate housing for people experiencing homelessness. Grant recipients are encouraged to invest in hotels and motels that are women and minority-owned, as well as those that are ADA compliant. The bill provides $15 million in funding for the Grant Fund. The bill passed by a vote of 6-4.
“The Community Revitalization Grant Program will allow us to create opportunity from the economic tragedy that was COVID-19,” said Rep. Susan Lontine, D-Denver, sponsor of SB21-252. “This grant program will allow communities across the state to invest in shovel-ready revitalization projects that will create jobs, stimulate local economies and turn empty storefronts on mainstreet into corridors of opportunity. ”
“Even before COVID forced some small businesses to shut down, there were small towns and main streets across Colorado that were clearly in need of some love,” said Rep. Brianna Titone, D-Arvada, sponsor of SB21-252. “This grant program will provide one-time funding to kick start projects that will restore our towns to their former glory, making a meaningful impact on economic development in the arts and other industries, creating good jobs, and promoting tourism for our state. It’s time to bring back the luster to our once vibrant community gems.”
SB21-252 would create the Community Revitalization Grant Program within the Office of Economic Development & International Trade (OEDIT) and provide it with $65 million in Colorado Comeback State Stimulus Funding, in addition to allowing gifts, grants, and donations to be contributed into the fund. The Program’s grants would help revitalize our main streets and downtowns by providing funding for creative construction and revitalization projects that combine commercial spaces with community spaces. The bill passed by a vote of 7-4.