Policy Bits ~ 3 Things to Know & Watch This Week
January 4-10, 2016
~ Karly Malpiede Andrus

Policy Bits 1-4-16 

I.   New Colorado laws go into Effect as of January 1, 2016

  • Five new laws as well as an automatic increase in the state’s minimum wage take effect as of January 1, 2016. The bills gave state and county officials a pay raise, starting 2019, and provided more oversight for child-welfare workers. Two transportation related measures also are in effect. http://goo.gl/NflxOo
  • These new laws obviously affect everyone in the state, although they may have little effect on our direct work, things like an increased minimum wage can help increase take home pay for some of those needing affordable housing. On the flip side, an increase could cause the ‘cliff effect’, that is a small increase in the minimum wage could result in a household now earning too much for benefits but not enough to be self-sufficient.

II.  HUD Announces SOAR Technical Assistance for Continuum of Cares (CoCs)

  • The SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery (SOAR) program assists states and communities increase access to Social Security disability benefits for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the SOAR TA center provides training. http://goo.gl/P2Vpgd
  • This program aims to prevent or reduce time on the streets by getting people access to resources they are owed but can be cumbersome to apply for, like SSA benefits. A homeless individual will be approved 10-15% of the time on initial application, SOAR approval rate is 65%. This innovative thinking about ways to ensure existing resources are more readily available will alleviate pressure on other resources.

III. Denver startup center targets new entrepreneurs, women and vets in 2016

  1. The Commons on Champa is a non-profit co-working and event venue that the city, Downtown Denver Partnership and the Colorado Technology Association opened in May. They are launching a series of programs meant to make startup advice and connections available to more entrepreneurs, especially first-timers, women and military veterans. http://goo.gl/c3l0lc
  2. This tale from the field shows how public private partnerships can emerge to find the best solutions.