Colorado lawmakers this week began introducing legislation to spend roughly $1 billion in federal coronavirus aid dollars to bolster affordable housing and improve the state’s behavioral health system.
The Colorado Sun is tracking the bills, what they do and how much each one would allocate. The money was sent to Colorado through the American Rescue Plan Act, the $1.9 trillion bill passed by Congress last year to help the nation weather the coronavirus crisis.
Measures will be rolled out in groups over the next several weeks.
We will update this story as new legislation is introduced.
Last updated on Wednesday, April 20, 2022.
House Bill 1282: This measure would allocate $40 million to encourage and support the construction of “innovative forms” of affordable housing in Colorado, including modular, prefabricated and manufactured homes. The Colorado Office of Economic Development will distribute the money through grants and loans to businesses located in Colorado that create innovative housing.
House Bill 1304: This measure would allocate $178 million toward grants to local governments and nonprofits around the state to buy land and develop affordable housing.
Senate Bill 146: This legislation would allocate $25 million to the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority’s middle-income access program, which aims to help families and people who make too much money to qualify for housing funded by low-income housing tax credits.
Senate Bill 159: This bill would put $150 million into a revolving loan program to help finance affordable housing projects as well as energy improvements. One of the aims is to improve non-traditional housing in areas where COVID-19 hindered housing affordability and availability.
Senate Bill 160: This measure would dedicate $35 million to help mobile home park residents, through loans and grants, to buy their land and create resident-owned communities.
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House Bill 1243: This measure would allocate a total of $14 million, including $6 millionto a grant program aimed at helping improve security at public schools. Another $2 million would go toward the existing Behavioral Health Care Professional Matching Grant Program in the Colorado Department of Education, which aims to help public schools increase the number of people providing substance abuse and behavioral health care to students. Finally, the bill would extend by two years, until 2024, a program that reimburses mental health counselors for providing up to three mental health sessions to kids screened into the program.
House Bill 1281: Local governments and nonprofits could apply for $90 million in grants to create community-based behavioral health programs, especially those aimed at children and families. The Colorado Behavioral Health Administration would be in charge of distributing the money through what would be called the health-care continuum gap grant program.
House Bill 1283: This measure would dedicate $54 million to expanding intensive residential and outpatient behavioral health care for young people and their families. Now, many children are sent to other states because such care isn’t available in Colorado. The money would also go toward building and staffing a neuropsych facility at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Fort Logan.
House Bill 1302: The goal of this $35 million measure is to better integrate behavioral health care with traditional physical health care.
House Bill 1326: Aimed at curtailing the state’s fentanyl crisis, this measure includes $29 million in ARPA money for medication that can reverse opioid overdoses and to expand grant and jail programs addressing the drug.
House Bill 1303: This legislation would spend $65 million to expand inpatient and residential treatment options in Colorado, including by supporting the addition of 16 beds at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Fort Logan and 125 other residential treatment beds across the state.
House Bill 1377: The measure would create a $105 million pool of money to be used for grants to help people experiencing homelessness find housing and health care.
Senate Bill 147: This bill aims to address youth suicide by spending $11 million, including to create the Colorado pediatric psychiatry consultation and access program at the University of Colorado. The program would strive to help pediatricians identify and treat mental health issues in their patients. Some of the money would be used to expand school-based health care, primarily in low-income parts of the state.
Senate Bill 148: This measure would allocate $5 million to make a grant to one or more Native American tribes in Colorado for the development of a behavioral health facility.
Senate Bill 177: This legislation would direct $12.2 million “to improve Colorado’s statewide care coordination infrastructure to better serve Coloradans seeking behavioral health care.” The money would be allocated through Colorado’s Behavioral Health Administration.
Senate Bill 181: This measure would allocate $72 million to Colorado’s Behavioral Health Administration to be spent on stabilizing the state’s behavioral health care workforce. Twenty million dollars would go toward creating a training curriculum for the Colorado Community College system, while another $20 million would be invested in the existing Colorado Health Services Corps.
Senate Bill 183: This measure would set aside $35 million to fund Colorado crime victim services so the program can continue for the next four years. It would also allocate $6 million for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Senate Bill 211: This measure would spend $45 million to repurpose the Ridge View campus into a supportive residential community for people experiencing homelessness.
Economic and workforce development
House Bill 1356: This legislation would allocate $35 million toward a program offering grants up to $100,000 to small nonprofits that serve people disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
House Bill 1381: This measure would spent $20 million to create a grant fund to support the use of geothermal energy in residential and commercial buildings.
House Bill 1380: This legislation would allocate $14 million in an effort to save people money on food and provide low-income people with access to “critical services,” like government benefits. The majority of the money, or $8 million, would go toward creating the Community Food Access Program, which is intended to assist small food retails and grocery stores in low-income and underserved parts of Colorado.Two million dollars would be used to identify federal food assistance program recipients who are also eligibly for utility bill help, while $3 million would go toward helping people apply for assistance programs. Finally, $1 million would go toward supporting technology upgrades for the Double Up Food Bucks Program.
House Bill 1379: This measure would invest $20 million to protect Colorado’s watersheds and reduce the risk of wildfires, including $10 million that would be directed to the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s construction fund for post-fire restoration needs and to prepare watersheds for fire.
Senate Bill 213: This bill would allocate $95 million toward projects aimed at improving child care access and options in Colorado, including $50 million that would be directed toward the creation of the Child Care Sustainability Grant Program.
What you need to know about the money
The Colorado legislature received $3.8 billion as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, about $1.2 billion of which was distributed last year. That doesn’t include the billions sent directly to cities and towns across the state.
The bills being passed by the legislature are expected to mostly, if not all, be bipartisan. They come after lawmakers spent the summer and fall studying the state’s economic, affordable housing and behavioral health needs.
To see how lawmakers distributed stimulus money last year, read this Colorado Sun story.
We’ll continue to update the graphic below tracking the spending measures.
This is a developing story that will be updated.
CORRECTION: This story was updated at 1:24 p.m. on Monday, March 22, 2022, to correct the description for Senate Bill 160. The measure would dedicate $35 million to help mobile home park residents, through loans and grants, to buy their land and create resident-owned communities.