January 28, 2022

JOINT RELEASE: ARPA TASK FORCES UNVEIL RECOMMENDATIONS TO IMPROVE BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CARE AND SAVE PEOPLE MONEY ON HOUSING

Recommendations aim to increase affordable housing stock and access to behavioral health and substance use disorder services.


Denver, CO – The Behavioral Health and Affordable Housing Transformational Task Forces today released final reports on their recommendations for using $850 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) pandemic relief funds to improve access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment and make housing more affordable.

“Far too many families like mine know firsthand how difficult getting treatment for behavioral health care can be here in Colorado,” said Sen. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, Chair of the Behavioral Health Transformational Task Force. “That’s why the Behavioral Health Transformational Task Force has been working tirelessly to improve access to vital services and create an accessible and equitable behavioral health care system that supports effective, data-driven and evidence-based treatment methods. I’m proud of the work this Task Force has done, and I look forward to helping more Coloradans get the care and support they deserve.”

“Making housing more affordable will be a main focus of our work this year at the Capitol, and with these recommendations, Colorado has the opportunity to create transformational change on affordable housing,” said Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon, Chair of the Affordable Housing Transformational Task Force. “From more affordable and attainable workforce housing across the state to new factory-built homes and the jobs that come with them, and much more, our investments will mean many more Coloradans have access to an affordable home to own or rent. I am immensely proud of the hundreds of hours of work our task force and subpanel members put in to craft these transformational recommendations that will drive down the cost of housing in our state and look forward to moving these proposals through the legislature so we can start helping Coloradans as soon as possible.”

“The lack of affordable housing here in Colorado is nothing short of a crisis, and our Task Force has been working tirelessly to find solutions so that more Coloradans have a safe, affordable place to live,” said Sen. Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, Vice Chair of the Affordable Housing Transformational Task Force. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to address the root causes of our affordable housing issues. It’s going to take time, but I am proud of the work we are doing to forge a future where every Colorado family has a place to call home.”

“Building healthier, safer communities through greater access to behavioral health services will give more Coloradans the supports they so desperately need right now,” said Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, D-Denver, Vice Chair of the Behavioral Health Transformational Task Force. “We know the pressures of the pandemic have exacerbated the behavioral health crisis in Colorado. These task force recommendations and historic investments will significantly improve access to mental health and substance use treatment in every community across Colorado. Importantly, improving access to these services is a powerful step toward our goal of preventing crime before it happens and making our communities safer and healthier.”

“I thank state lawmakers for their work to make transformational change and am glad they were able to find bipartisan consensus on how to reduce housing costs and improve mental health support across Colorado,” said Governor Jared Polis. “Our administration looks forward to working with state legislators to turn this hard work into action and help save people money.”

To better provide vital care to Coloradans in crisis, the Behavioral Health Transformational Task Force recommended measures that will make transformational changes to the state’s behavioral health care system and improve access to services to ensure every Coloradan is able to get the help they need.

Behavioral Health Transformational Task Force Recommendations include:

Investing in increased adult residential care and improving access to residential care, community services and school-based care for children, youth and families;

Addressing the behavioral health needs of Colorado’s Native American Tribes;

Integrating primary care with behavioral health care and investing in better care coordination to help ensure people are connected to the services they need;

Funding for emergency, life-saving interventions like purchasing bulk opioid antagonists and increasing support for survivors of domestic violence;

Providing grants to local governments and community-based organizations to help fill regional gaps in the continuum of care;

Diverting Coloradans with behavioral health needs away from the criminal justice system and into appropriate community treatment programs; and

Expanding and supporting Colorado’s behavioral health care workforce.

The Affordable Housing Transformational Task Force also delivered recommendations to the legislature, with measures aimed at addressing Colorado’s affordable housing crisis, reducing homelessness and making sure that every Colorado family has a safe, affordable place to call home.

Affordable Housing Transformational Task Force Recommendations include:

Establishing a revolving loan fund that will improve Colorado’s ability to build and develop new housing, help preserve and rehabilitate existing affordable housing, incentivize property conversion and increase non-traditional housing capacity such as supportive and transitional housing;

Providing grant funding to nonprofits and local governments that are doing the work on the ground to add more units of affordable housing by changing zoning laws and developing supportive, rental and for-sale housing;

Directing grants or low-interest loans to support and maintain affordable housing and future development opportunities through land-banking, land trusts and community-owned land opportunities. This would also make investments in resident-owned community infrastructure to help residents purchase property such as mobile home parks; and

Directing funding to support construction of prefabricated, modular, manufactured and other sources of factory-built housing.