Policy Bits ~ 3 Things to Know & Watch This Week
Dec 7 – Dec 13, 2015
~ Karly Malpiede Andrus

I.    With Potential budget Deficit, Colorado Lawmakers Consider Early Cuts Policy Bits12715

  • A potential deficit range of $34M – $220M is prompting a bipartisan group of lawmakers on the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) to consider rare spending cuts in the middle of the fiscal year, despite objections from Governor Hickenlooper. The Governor’s budget anticipates a $160M deficit after the dueling economic forecasts from September, December’s numbers will be important to determine the scope of cuts required. http://goo.gl/jz0hlO
  • This could affect efforts to advocate for continuation of state tax credits, a dedicated revenue source for affordable housing and possibly the political environment at the General Assembly. Also, not yet spent grant funds could be considered unspent funds and may be an area for cuts which could affect our partners.

II.   Map: In Denver, Your Neighborhood Can Say A lot About How Long You’ll Live

  • A healthy life requires much more than access to quality healthcare; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Virginia Commonwealth University released a geospatial dataset that illustrates this reality by mapping Denver’s neighborhoods by life expectancy, a metric that accounts for race, infant mortality, income and a variety of other indicators in addition to access to healthcare. The research, explores how something as simple as sidewalks can influence individual health and is aimed at starting conversations among local health officials and community organizations about the ways neighborhood conditions can influence health. https://goo.gl/KiGj8g
  • We can help address these issues by being purposeful in our development efforts to integrate active design, engage tenants and provide active play space. Further, intentional work can be done with partners around environmental health issues, including the employment Health Impact Assessments (HIAs) in all neighborhood plans.

III.  “Blocks of Hope” Program Aims to Fight Poverty & Help Kids one Block at a Time

  • The “Blocks of Hope” program, led by nonprofit Growing Home, at Tennyson Knolls Elementary, is modeled on the Harlem’s Children Zone in NYC and tackles the question – what can be done to mitigate the pernicious effects of poverty on student success? The “place-based” program provides a full set of educational and social services to families with children age birth to 9 within the 2.25 sq mile geographical area. http://goo.gl/3upEq1
  • A similar initiative, the Children’s Corridor, was launched in Notheast Denver and Aurora but was phased out, part of the problem being the large 41-sq mile target area covering multiple cities, counties and school districts. These models demonstrate the philosophical struggle between how to be most impactful in an age of increasingly limited resources – is it better in terms of outcome to give a few folks a lot of help OR give more folks a smaller amount of help. How can we help achieve change most effectively?