President Joe Biden's newly confirmed housing secretary met with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Friday to discuss a share of federal stimulus money to combat homelessness, a constant and thorny problem for the Denver metro area.
Colorado stands to gain $67 million total from the $2.2 trillion American Rescue Plan, including $24.7 million state's division of housing.
Local governments will have the flexibility to use the money for housing and homelessness programs as they see fit.
"There are few essentials that come before everything else in life, but housing is one of those," Polis said.
The governor said it was not just the compassionate thing to do, but a smart investment, as well. He said typically in Colorado 8 out of 10 people placed in housing stay housed.
Polis pointed to stimulus legislation making its way through General Assembly to his desk to increase housing stability.
"This field of vision for a Colorado for all, housing is an important part of that," Polis said, repeating "Colorado for all" mission statement. "And yet there is an apparent difference, unfortunately, very painful, between the ideals of the vision and what we see every day across our country."
The federal plan will eventually spend $5 billion to combat homelessness across the country, where an estimated 580,000 Americans a night were sleeping on the street, before the pandemic, said Marcia L. Fudge, who was confirmed as secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, last month.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored how important it is for everyone to have stable housing," Fudge said on the call.
She said Biden will soon request for another $3.5 billion in homeless assistance grants, which will support 100,000 more households.
Polis thanked Biden and Fudge for HUD's equal access rule announced Thursday to stop provide nondiscrimination protections in homeless shelters for transgender people.
"No one should face discrimination based on who they love or how they identify," Polis told Fudge.
Fudge was a congresswoman from Ohio, when the president nominated her for the Cabinet position. Since 2008, Fudge had represented parts of Cleveland and Akron.
Polis and Fudge were joined on the noon call by U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
Last month the Denver City Council voted unanimously to steer more than $15.6 million into housing programs for the homelessness.