June 02, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) — Gov. Bill Ritter and more than a dozen state agencies, nonprofits and service providers today hosted an opportunity and help fair at the Capitol for working families struggling to survive the economic downturn.
At the fair, Gov. Ritter also signed into law six bills that will help families through this challenging time, including measures that extend unemployment benefits and provide a foreclosure “time-out” to responsible homeowners.
“We must do everything we can to help those who are struggling, to keep Coloradans in their jobs, and to keep families in their homes,” Gov. Ritter said. “Today we are providing direct and immediate assistance to working families and we will continue to do so in the months ahead.
“We made great progress this legislative session by creating jobs, improving health-care availability and expanding job-training programs. Today, we continue our historic progress in leading Colorado forward.”
House Bill 1276, sponsored by Rep. Mark Ferrandino and Sen. Morgan Carroll, offers a 90-day timeout to responsible homeowners facing foreclosure. With the help of a foreclosure counselor, homeowners can negotiate a plan with their lender so they can stay in their home.
“Nobody benefits from foreclosures,” Gov. Ritter said. “They are tragic for families, destructive to neighborhoods and are a burden for lenders. Over the past 2½ years, I have worked aggressively to address Colorado’s foreclosure rate, and today we take a significant step forward with HB 1276. This bill will help responsible Coloradans get back on track and hold onto the American dream.”
“This bill will require borrowers and lenders to take and share responsibility,” Rep. Ferrandino said. “The borrower, the lender and the community are all better off when folks can stay in their homes. This bill helps the lenders by figuring out who can meet their responsibilities and stay in their homes. The borrower must continue to pay. We are not forcing renegotiations.
“But we are helping the banks by screening candidates and helping them work with the most responsible of borrowers. I started this discussion a year ago, and after lots of work with the bankers, the advocates, and lenders, we came up with a fair bill to allow people to hold onto their American dream. It will accomplish a lot with very little risk or loss from the banks.”
“If people work hard and make an effort to be responsible and get back on track with their home payments, they should get some help,” Sen. Carroll said. “This bill does that and I’m excited to see it signed today. I’ve seen serious foreclosures in my district and I understand how much this impacts entire communities. Thanks to this bill, people will now see real help on the horizon.”
SB 247 the Unemployment Insurance Modernization Act, sponsored by Sen. Lois Tochtrop and Rep. Sale Pace, makes more Coloradans eligible for unemployment insurance. It also provides funding to cover 13,000 unemployed Coloradans with 20 additional weeks of unemployment benefits, and extends benefits to people in job training programs.
“With the state of the economy, more and more people are finding themselves unemployed,” Sen. Tochtrop said. “We all know at least one person who has lost his or her job in the last year. Thanks to Senate Bill 247, help is on the way. We can draw down more than $120 million in federal aid to help even more unemployed workers in Colorado.”
“This critical legislation makes modest improvements that will help Colorado draw down $127 million in federal dollars to solidify our unemployment insurance, and another $15 million to train unemployed workers for high-skilled, well-paying renewable energy sector jobs,” Rep. Pace said. “These dollars will go directly towards assisting struggling families, and help jumpstart rural and urban economies across the state to move Colorado out of the recession faster.”
HB 1136, sponsored by Rep. John Soper and Sen. Tochtrop, will make Coloradans safer by modernizing how we train and license electricians.
HB 1310, sponsored by Rep. Claire Levy and Sen. Rollie Heath, ensures workers are correctly classified as either employees or contractors so that working families will not be deprived of unemployment insurance protection and other benefits.
HB 1076, sponsored by Rep. Pace and Sen. Tochtrop, changes the way unemployment insurance interacts with Social Security benefits. It will benefit almost 2,000 Colorado retirees and increase their unemployment insurance payments by more than $2,500 apiece.
SB 76, sponsored by Sen. Heath and Rep. Court, will update the computer systems that run the unemployment insurance program at the Department of Labor and Employment.
HB 1076, sponsored by Rep. Pace and Sen. Tochtrop, will help our state’s seniors.
Gov. Ritter thanked the following organizations for their support and advocacy work on the bills signed today: American Association of Retired Persons, AFL-CIO, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, National Electrical Contractors Association, Colorado Building and Construction Trades Council, Teamsters, 9to5, Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, The Bell Policy Center, Colorado Competitive Council, National Federation of Independent Businesses, ACORN, Colorado Center on Law and Policy, Colorado Foreclosure Prevention Task Force, Housing Colorado and the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute.
Organizations Taking Part in Today’s Help & Opportunity Fair for Working Families
- 9to5: Job survival hotline and job workshops information.
- ACORN: Benefit screening, foreclosure prevention, and income tax assistance.
- Adams County Housing Authority: Local affordable-housing resources.
- Brothers Redevelopment: Housing counseling and home repair for low-income families.
- Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO: Information on apprenticeships.
- Catholic Charities: Varied services from housing, shelters, child care, and senior services.
- College in Colorado: Resources for attending and paying for college.
- Colorado Community College System: Resources for attending and paying for colleges.
- Colorado Dept. of Labor and Employment: Unemployment insurance, workforce prgms. Colorado Dept. of Human Services: Child care assistance and child welfare information.
- Colorado Dept. of Human Services – Fatherhood Initiative and Colorado Works.
- Colorado Dept. of Human Services: Food stamps and other food resources.
- Colorado Dept. of Human Services – Low-Income Energy Assistance Program.
- Colorado Division of Civil Rights: Help w/ discrimination issues in housing, employment.
- Colorado Foreclosure Hotline: Foreclosure housing counselors
- Colorado Housing Assistance Corporation: Loan/financial counseling for homeowners.
- Colorado Housing and Finance Authority: Foreclosure and home-buying program including JumpStart (allowing people to access $6,000 of $8,000 federal tax credit early for down payment or closing cost assistance)
- Colorado Legal Services: Legal assistance and legal advocacy for low-income residents
- Goodwill Inc.: Job training, job placement, and other assistance programs.
- Governor’s Commission on Community Service: AmeriCorps, VISTA, other programs.
- Governors Energy Office Weatherization Program: Home weatherization assistance for low-income families.
- Health Care Policy and Financing: Health care resources including Medicaid, long-term care, and CHP+.
- HUD Federal Housing Administration: Low-income housing resources
- Maximus: Local health care assistance organization specializing in CHP+ outreach
- Metro CareRing: Food pantry and utility assistance,
- NEWSED: Mortgage counseling and foreclosure prevention. This is a bilingual organization.
- Partnership for Prescription Assistance: Prescription drug assistance
- United Way 2-1-1: 211 is a telephone code residents can dial to access information regarding health and human services.
- 9Health Fair: Local health information and screening fair. Will have information about October Family Health Fair which will be bilingual.
Gov. Bill Ritter’s Accomplishments for Working Families
- SB09-108 — Transportation Jobs (FASTER) — Creates thousands of jobs fixing our bridges and roads.
- HB09-1293 — Health Care Affordability Act — provides health insurance to over 100,000 Coloradoans while slowing the growth in health care costs and without costing Colorado tax payers a penny.
- HB09-1319 — ASCENT (Accelerating Students through Concurrent ENrollmenT) — provides for children of working the opportunity to simultaneously pursue high school and community college degrees, lowering the cost and shortening the time until students can find good jobs.
- HB09-1276 — Delay Foreclosure for Residential Property — Helps working families stay in their homes by preventing foreclosures.
- SB09-247 — Expanded Unemployment Insurance Benefits — Modernizes unemployment benefits in Colorado immediately bringing $67 million of federal funds to 13,400 unemployed people through up to 20 additional weeks of benefits. Brings an additional $127 million to help unemployed Coloradoans over the next decade.
- HB09-1310 — Employee Misclassification — Ensures that hard working families are not misclassified as independent contractors, thus losing benefits and increasing the employees’ costs.
- HB09-1349 — Continuing Health Care After Employment — Allows many Coloradans who have lost their jobs a chance to continue their health care coverage with a 65% premium subsidy from the federal government.
- HB08-1402 — Real Estate Foreclosures — Directs early notice to families facing foreclosure and increases foreclosure prevention resources. The Governor’s support for the foreclosure hotline has helped many working families avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes.
- HB08-1356 — Concerning Landlord Tenant Relations — protections for residential renters and warranty of habitability, bringing Colorado in line with 48 other states — a significant advance in tenants’ rights
- 2008 budget action — Creates a medical home — a pediatrician to provide on-going care — for all children in CHIP and Medicaid.
- SB07-235 — Creation of a Economic Self Sufficiency Standard — creates a self-sufficiency standard unique to each county, reflecting what income would be required for a family to afford necessities such as food, transportation, housing and child care
- HB07-1322, SB07-203 and SB07-216 — Mortgage Fraud Legislation — brings Colorado to the forefront in regulation of mortgage brokers and others to head off repetition of the mortgage crisis afflicting Coloradans.
Friday is the final day for Gov. Ritter to take action on bills from the 2009 legislative session.
Holly Shrewsbury, 720.320.0097, holly.shrewsbury (at) state.co (dot) us
Evan Dreyer, 720.350.8370, evan.dreyer (at) state.co (dot) us