Colorado budget cuts will hurt indigent most, some say |

Colorado budget cuts will hurt indigent most, some say

Jessica Fender
The Denver Post
RJ Sangosti,/The Denver Post

Advocates for the homeless, indigent and uninsured say that while deep budget cuts will affect all Coloradans, the poorest will feel the sharpest pain.

Community health and homeless outreach organizations stand to lose at least $60 million in state and federal money, including the abolishment of a $200 monthly stipend that many disabled indigents count as their only income.

Gov. Bill Ritter tried to keep as many people as possible covered by critical safety-net programs, even if they receive reduced benefits, a spokesman said. And those who care for other vulnerable populations, such as children and people battling substance abuse, have applauded Ritter’s work on what they say is a difficult problem.

But from John Parvensky’s vantage as president of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, the state’s safety net is tearing just as more people tumble into it.

“More people are coming to us for help. At the same time, the state is taking away funding that allows us to meet health care and housing needs,” said Parvensky, who estimates his budget will drop by 20 percent, once new federal stimulus money is added in. “It’s shredding the safety net for sure.”

Ritter on Tuesday rolled out his plan to fill the $320 million shortfall using everything from closing beds at a state-run mental institution to easing parole for prisoners.

Every state agency was hit. Agencies dealing with health care and human services represent two of the largest chunks of the budget.

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