DENVER (KRDO) -- Two bills making their way through the Colorado legislature would provide a boost to the state's assistance funds for housing and utilities.
House Bills 1410 and 1412, which on Wednesday passed the Senate State Veterans & Military Affairs committee, would direct $30 million in CARES Act funds to programs that help low-income residents in Colorado. The federal bill was passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that forced nearly half a million Coloradans to file for unemployment.
HB20-1410 sets aside $20 million in rental and mortgage assistance -- $350,000 of that is going to legal aid for renters at risk of eviction, and the rest will go to direct cash assistance for at-need residents.
According to the bill text of HB1410, the priority of those who would receive money goes in the following order:
- Homeless families with dependents enrolled in school
- Medicaid clients in nursing homes who can live in their communities with in-home services
- Family unification and related services
- Homeless or disabled veterans
- Low-income households with an income at or below 100% of the area's median income
- Survivors of domestic violence
- Homeless people who are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19
- Entities that provide services to youth experiencing or at-risk of experiencing homelessness
HB1412 provides $10 million to the Energy Outreach Colorado Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund, which provides help for Coloradans at risk of losing their utilities service.
Families approved for assistance under this program will see a direct payment made to the utility provider. Applicants have to certify that the need for bill payment assistance is due to economic hardship "incurred due to the public health emergency resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic."
In addition to the housing assistance bills, a third assistance bill -- HB20-1411, which would provide $15 million to critical mental health and substance abuse treatment programs within state departments -- also passed the committee.
All of the bills still need to pass a final vote in the Colorado Senate before Gov. Jared Polis can sign them into law.