UpDoNA’s Safety and Quality of Life Committee is very excited to announce two bills which were signed yesterday by Governor Polis
The Committee has had four meetings with State Senators and Representatives over the past three months. On March 5, 2022, we met with State Senator Bob Rankin. Subsequently on April 15, 2022, the committee also met with Senator Chris Hansen. On March 3, 2022, we met with Senator Julie Gonzales’ office who is the senator for our district, and on May 17, 2022, we had a lengthy conversation with Representative Alex Valdez who is the representative for our district.
The purposes of the meetings with Senator Gonzales and Representative Valdez were to introduce them to UpDoNA and our goals, and to discuss ways that the State of Colorado could help combat Denver homelessness. We found them fruitful, particularly the meeting with Representative Valdez.
The meetings with Senators Rankin and Hansen were more targeted. Both Senators are members of the Joint Budget Committee which was engaged at the time on determining ways to utilize about $100M that Colorado had received in a one-time federal grant for economic recovery. During those meetings, we discussed a wide range of potential applications on how to fund programs to ease the homelessness crisis. We discussed the possibility of repurposing the Ridge View Campus. That 100+ acre campus is located about 30 miles southeast of downtown Denver and had previously been used to help troubled teens. Due to a variety of reported problems, that center unfortunately had to be shut down last year. However, the unused campus provided an opportunity for use in drug rehabilitation. Since both senators serve in the Joint Budget Committee, they were instrumental in determining how to use the $100M in funds.
We are very excited to announce that Senate Bill 22-211 was signed by Governor Polis yesterday which will allocate $45M to repurpose the Ridge View campus with the intention of providing transitional housing, helping with mental health and substance abuse treatment, and providing job training. This is exactly the type of facility that we discussed. Representative Valdez was one of the prime sponsors of the bill.
In addition, Gov Polis also signed House Bill 22-1378 which funds the creation of an additional facility somewhere in the Denver metro area for the same purpose. The state will make $50M available to a Denver area local government or community partner who can apply for the funds to develop the facility. This bill was sponsored by Alex Valdez whom the Safety and Quality of Life Committee met with on May 17th. It is co-sponsored by Senator Hansen. This facility will likely become operational some time in the coming years.
It is important to note that these are one-time grants. At some point in time, this funding will expire, and the continued use will become a cost to taxpayers. We hope that when that time comes, continued funding will be allocated.
Photo attribution: Wikipedia page on Colorado General Assembly