The 2016 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard was recently released by the CFED, and it revealed that many Coloradans are still mired in low-paying occupations and are straining to save money and/or pay for their housing.
The Colorado Center on Law and Policy, or CCLP, leads the Assets & Opportunity Network, an organization that helps low-income households make strides in building emergency funds, receiving tax and housing credits, and increasing their credit score. CCLP intends to reach out to local partners to collaborate in an effort to create a policy change aimed at helping this particular segment of the population. The first step is highlighting the findings of the Scorecard and analyzing the data.
The 2016 Scorecard evaluates the fifty states, plus DC, on sixty-one measures. While Colorado received an “A” for its low underemployment rate, as well as for education, it got an average score for health care. This is due in part to the heightened rate of the state’s uninsured children and also for gender and race disparities in relation to insurance. Colorado was awarded a “B” in housing, homeownership, income, and financial assets.
Other highlights of the scorecard include that though high school and college graduation rates rose in CO over the past several years, racial disparities were still extreme. Under 20% of African-American adults and even less Latino adults achieved a Bachelor’s Degree. Also, Colorado ranks 46th in the country for access to food stamps. The state’s county-based Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program underperforms on many levels, meaning many residents are needlessly going hungry. And, many of the state’s households are victims of the “cliff effect”, a situation in which a loss of public benefits occurs suddenly once a particular income threshold is reached.
Colorado is making strides in many of the measures evaluated on the scorecard, but low-income families are unfortunately not seeing or feeling the effects. Low-wage jobs, underemployment, lack of college education, and an inability to attain nutrition through the county-run food stamp programs, all create a vicious cycle which contributes to their inability to progress and achieve their greatest potential. The revelation of this new data, and the subsequent actions undertaken by the CCLP, will hopefully reveal better results for Colorado on next year’s scorecard.