Human Services Safety Net Initiative (HSSN)
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Human Services Safety Net Initiative (HSSN)

What is the Human Services Safety Net (HSSN)?

The Human Services Safety Net: Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Boulder County’s Human Services Safety Net (HSSN) initiative is filling critical gaps in health, housing, and human services supports during times of uncertainty, and has the backing of our community.

In November 2010, Boulder County voters approved Ballot Initiative 1A, a temporary 0.9 mill levy increase on property taxes. The purpose of the increase is to help fill a void left by state and federal cuts to funding for housing and human services programs during a time when need has been skyrocketing. The HSSN tax increase was scheduled to expire at the end of 2015, and Boulder County Commissioners placed a proposed extension of the HSSN on the November 2014 ballot. Voters approved the extension overwhelmingly (63 to 37 percent), an affirmation of its success that means HSSN funding will continue through the year 2030.

The primary function of the HSSN is to help fill significant gaps left by ongoing inadequate state and federal funding for health care, housing assistance, and other human services supports and programs. Its secondary function is to help attract additional funding from other sources. It has been and continues to be successful at both. Since 2010, the Human Services Safety Net initiative has raised over $60 million for these supports in Boulder County. Use of the tax is restricted to programs primarily that provide rental assistance, support for child protection, financial help for early childhood care and education, critical mental health and substance use supports, and sustained access to health and dental care for at-risk families and children. It can’t be used for capital, to build housing, or other purposes. See the ballot language linked below in “Documents” for full details on what the HSSN must fund.

What’s been the result of the voter-approved 15-year extension?

Over $80 million has been invested in crucial health, housing, and human services supports because the HSSN was extended by Boulder County voters. These investments have helped boost access to health care, food assistance, housing supports, and much more over the past decade. In fact, Medicaid enrollment has gone from 12,000 people to 60,000 in this time, and enrollment in the SNAP food assistance program has doubled from 8,900 to nearly 18,000 people. These increases were supported by HSSN investments made in access to benefits, and have helped lay a foundation for a stronger community through the crises we have faced over the past ten years, including the current COVID-19 pandemic.

As we work to invest HSSN resources effectively, we continue to identify funding priority areas, leverage our existing resources, strengthen the integration of our services, and focus on improving outcomes across the lifespans of the individuals and families we serve. Our work within the very productive Community of Hope also strengthened the foundation we have built for this community-wide conversation. This page will be updated as additional phases of work progress through HSSN funding.

Why was it adopted?

Boulder County’s caseload for services like food assistance has increased 247% since 2008 (from 8,900 to 22,000 people). For Medicaid programs, it’s been a 375% increase (16,000 to 60,000 people). During this same time, federal and state cuts to safety net programs have not been restored, and many cities and counties are falling further and further behind the need in their communities. The increase in numbers of people enrolled has occurred despite funding cuts, an indication that the Human Services Safety Net has done the job it was designed to do.

Through very targeted investments in successful human services and effective partnerships, the HSSN continues to help alleviate the impacts of these cuts in Boulder County even as need for assistance continues to increase.

What does it mean for homeowners?

As an example, on a $500,000 home in Boulder County, the 0.9 mill levy property tax amounts to about $45 per year.

How is it helping our community?

Since its inception, the HSSN has invested nearly $38 million in human services, housing assistance, and health supports in Boulder County.

What’s next?

Boulder County’s Housing and Human Services Department is responsible for managing the HSSN funds, and continues to work with Boulder County Commissioners, our community partners, and the public to identify needs and priority areas that will strengthen the community’s safety net. In addition to the services funded to date, additional needs for the future include life skills and education support for parents, job training and employment assistance, and a continued focus on early childhood initiatives. The Human Services Safety Net initiative is allowing us to continue to develop a proactive approach to human services. By helping people and families stabilize with food or medical assistance, avoid the loss of housing, or receive job assistance early in the search process, we can help our community members avoid more catastrophic situations down the line. This ultimately saves tax dollars, since more intensive services later are exponentially more expensive.

The Boulder County Commissioners and Boulder County Housing and Human Services held a town hall meeting with community partners on the Human Services Safety Net in June 2014. Among other things, we heard about how the HSSN is proactively addressing community need by investing in front-end prevention and stabilization services. We also heard moving testimonials about the HSSN from community partners.

We’re grateful to Boulder County voters for sharing our vision of community-based early intervention and prevention, and our goals of family and individual stabilization and self-sufficiency.

Some of the important impacts of the HSSN in Boulder County (2011 – 2019):

The primary function of the HSSN is to help fill significant gaps left by ongoing inadequate state and federal funding for health care, housing assistance, and other human services supports and programs. Its secondary function is to help attract additional funding from other sources. It has been and continues to be successful at both. Since 2010, the Human Services Safety Net initiative has raised over $60 million for these supports in Boulder County. Use of the tax is restricted to programs primarily that provide rental assistance, support for child protection, financial help for early childhood care and education, critical mental health and substance use supports, and sustained access to health and dental care for at-risk families and children. It can’t be used for capital, to build housing, or other purposes. See the ballot language at right for full details around what the HSSN must fund.

Since 2011, tens of millions of dollars in HSSN funding has gone to the Boulder County Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), a critical support for helping low-income parents and their children get quality child care and early childhood education opportunities. Because of this additional funding, Boulder County has been able to serve nearly twice the number of families and children than federal and state allocations support. With a significant boost from the Human Services Safety Net, CCAP supports both children and parents at the same time, so the community’s return on this “Two-Generation” investment over time is high – research indicates between 7 and 11 dollars for every one dollar spent. Boulder County’s successes in increasing investments in the CCAP program through HSSN have also helped prompt additional financial support for quality child care statewide. Despite the increased support levels in Boulder County, thousands of families are still in need of this assistance, and we continue to work to expand the service through visionary initiatives such as the Human Services Safety Net.

The HSSN has invested over $10 million in the county’s Housing Stabilization Program, which (since 2008) has provided rental assistance for over 2,400 families at risk of homelessness, some of whom were displaced by the September 2013 Boulder County flooding; The funding has also supported our collaboration with many community partners around Boulder County: many of the HSP referrals have come from partner non-profits like OUR Center, Sister Carmen, and EFAA.

The HSSN has also generated the following additional supports for our community:

Over $4 million for direct mental health and substance use services

Over $25 million to boost access to health care, food assistance, safety services (including child protection), including through several non-profit and governmental community partner organizations, as well as medical and dental clinics that serve at-risk low-income populations.

Significant investments were made in the county’s collaborative program for parents who are having trouble making their child support payments; Boulder County was the only one of the “Big 10” Colorado counties to see an increase in percent of current child support paid from 2010 to today.

The HSSN also plays an important role in helping ensure the fund balance for Boulder County Housing and Human Services (BCDHHS) remains as healthy as possible. In 2019, BCDHHS ended the year with a $14.5 million fund balance. While this is considered to be a healthy balance, for an organization that serves over 90,000 Boulder County residents each year who are in need of a wide range of help, this figure represents a relatively small part of its annual budget – about three months of savings. In today’s ongoing fiscal uncertainty around public supports funding, this is a worrisome number. But this is precisely why BCDHHS has worked hard to bolster its fund balance by leveraging and matching funding from visionary initiatives such as HSSN: to weather uncertainty so that our neighbors in need during times such as these still have supports to stabilize and thrive.

REQUEST FOR APPLICATION: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Applicants applying for funding from both Boulder County Department Housing and Human Services and Department of Community Services will not receive duplicate funding (for the same programs/services) out of both funding streams. Agencies and programs may apply to both funding sources; however funding will remain unduplicated.

Agencies will be notified about their application by the end of October 2022. We are hoping to work through all the applications as quickly as possible and anticipate a high volume of applications/requests.

In collaboration between staff within Housing and Human Services and Community Services, a matrix has been developed to review all HSSN applications against. This will include rating applications in areas such as finances, client impact, racial equity and program specific (focus areas) measures. The review team will include Boulder County HHS staff, practice liaisons, and Community Service staff.

The Human Services Safety Net funding is administered by the Boulder County Department of Housing and Human Services and the Human Services Fund is administered by the Boulder County Department of Community Services. We will be coordinating to ensure that duplicate funding does not occur.

If application submissions exceed 50 MB, please send information in multiple emails and be sure to note that in the body of the email.

Contact Us

Human Services

Phone: 303-441-1000
TTY: 1-800-659-3656
Fax: 303-441-1523
Submit a question

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 471
Boulder, CO 80306

Boulder Location

3460 Broadway
Map and Directions Boulder Location

Fax: 720-564-2283
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday/Wednesday/Friday

Longmont Location

515 Coffman St.
Map and Directions Longmont Location
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Monday-Friday

Lafayette Location

1755 S. Public Road, Lafayette
Map and Directions Lafayette Location
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Tuesday/Thursday
Closed 1-2 p.m. for lunch.

Housing & Human Services website

Connect With Us

Boulder County’s Human Services Safety Net (HSSN) initiative is filling critical gaps in health, housing, and human services supports during times of uncertainty, and is driven by the generosity of our community.

The application period for 2023 Human Services Safety Net funding closed on September 30, 2022. Please see below for the full list of organizations receiving HSSN funding for 2023, and check back here for updates on upcoming funding releases. Contact Rory Trujillo Thomes at rthomes@bouldercounty.org with questions.

Organization Program Bucket 2023 HSSN Funding Amount
Blue Sky Bridge Advocacy, Intervention and Education Services Individual and Family Supports $37,000.00
Boulder County AIDs Project HIV Care Services and Prevention Services Health and Wellbeing $85,982
Boulder County Department of Public Health Infant and Child Mental Health Health and Wellbeing $61,940
Boulder Housing Partners Bringing School Home Housing and Homelessness Prevention $55,968.00
Boulder Shelter for the Homeless Coordinated Entry Housing and Homelessness Prevention $142,500.00
Boulder Shelter for the Homeless Emergency Solutions Grant Case Management Housing and Homelessness Prevention $70,955.00
Boulder Shelter for the Homeless Permanent Supportive Housing Case Management Housing and Homelessness Prevention $110,000.00
Boulder Shelter for the Homeless Housing Focused Shelter Housing and Homelessness Prevention $583,000.00
Boulder Valley Women’s Health Subsidized Reproductive & Sexual Health Services and Education Health and Wellbeing $232,000
City of Boulder Mediation and Facilitation Services Housing and Homelessness Prevention $62,100.00
Clinica Family Health Services* Primary Health Care with Integrated Dental and Mental Health Care for Medically Underserved Boulder County Residents Health and Wellbeing $959,000
Community Food Share* Food Access and Support for Boulder County Residents and Non-Profits Health and Wellbeing $600,000
Dental Aid General Operations Health and Wellbeing $210,000
Early Childhood Council of Boulder County Access to Quality Child Care Education and Skill Building $152,145.00
Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA) Housing Stabilization Program Housing and Homelessness Prevention $106,655.00
Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA) Family Resource Center Individual and Family Supports $413,985
Focus Reentry One Stop Shop Focus on Housing Program Housing and Homelessness Prevention $44,442.00
Homeless Outreach Providing Encouragement (HOPE) Coordinated Entry, Diversion, Housing Focused Shelter and Street Outreach Housing and Homelessness Prevention $100,000.00
Jewish Family Services Mental Health Services Health and Wellbeing $165,000
Lyons Emergency and Assistance Fund (LEAF) Mental Wellness Health and Wellbeing $51,161
Mental Health Partners General Operations Health and Wellbeing $3,749,600
Mental Health Partners Community Based Services Health and Wellbeing $415,000
Mental Health Partners Withdrawal Management Health and Wellbeing $690,000
Mental Health Partners Prevention Intervention Program Health and Wellbeing $194,001.00
Mental Health Partners Jail Mental Health Services Health and Wellbeing $139,135.00
Mother House Wrap Around Supports to Homeless Women, Non-Binary and Trans Folks in Boulder County Housing and Homelessness Prevention $100,000.00
Nederland Food Pantry Food Pantry Health and Wellbeing $31,520
OUR Center Housing Stabilization Program Housing and Homelessness Prevention $153,000.00
OUR Center Peak2Peak Consultant Individual and Family Supports $20,160
OUR Center Family Resource Center Individual and Family Supports $572,860
OUT Boulder Mental Health Program Health and Wellbeing $155,000
Safe Shelter of St. Vrain Valley Housing Stabilization Program Housing and Homelessness Prevention $54,448.00
Safe Shelter of St. Vrain Valley Safe Shelter Domestic Violence Victim Services/General Operations Individual and Family Supports $114,000.00
Salud* Access to Comprehensive Primary Care Services Health and Wellbeing $565,846.00
Sister Carmen Community Center Parent Education and Family Development Credential Professional Development Education and Skill Building $79,000.00
Sister Carmen Community Center Housing Stabilization Program Housing and Homelessness Prevention $114,329.00
Sister Carmen Community Center Family Resource Center Individual and Family Supports $533,200
Sister Carmen Community Center Food and Nutrition Classes Health and Wellbeing $27,400
Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (SPAN) Housing Stabilization Program Housing and Homelessness Prevention $50,375.00
Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (SPAN) Services for Domestic Violence Survivors Housing and Homelessness Prevention $217,715.00
St. Vrain Valley School District Project Launch Elementary and Middle School Education and Skill Building $500,000.00
TGTHR Housing Stabilization Program Housing and Homelessness Prevention $32,603.00
TGTHR Residential Services Housing and Homelessness Prevention $48,904.00
TGTHR Supportive Housing Program Housing and Homelessness Prevention $124,200.00
The Inn Between of Longmont Supportive Housing Program Housing and Homelessness Prevention $84,500.00
TLC Learning Center Early Childhood Education and Pediatric Therapeutic Services Education and Skill Building $40,000.00
Wild Plum Center General Operations Education and Skill Building $71,000.00
YWCA of Boulder County Persimmon Early Learning Education and Skill Building $173,500.00
Total 2023 Funding $13,295,129.00
* denotes that organization received a one time increase to their budget to address the impact of the end of the public health emergency on programs and services.

Applications for 2023 funding from Boulder County Department of Housing and Human Services were accepted for a period of six weeks, with a closing date of September 30, 2022.

This application process was in alignment with internal procurement policies and practices and was meant to ensure that we are equitably distributing the Human Services Safety Net Funding to partners across the Boulder County community.

The funding priority areas included:

  1. Housing and Homelessness Prevention: Programming or services focused on increasing the ability for people to obtain and maintain housing. This includes but is not limited to, rental assistance, legal representation for housing, sheltering, pathways to housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness and other services to keep people house.
  2. Education and Skill Building: Programming or services focused on advancing childhood development and academic achievement. This includes but is not limited to childcare, child, teen or adult academic support, and youth, adult, or older adult training.
  3. Health and Well-Being, including Mental and Behavioral Health: Programming or services focused on supporting people to prevent, maintain, and improve physical and/or behavioral health and increase healthy behaviors. This includes but is not limited to, direct health care services, wellness, food security and nutrition.
  4. Individual and Family Supports: Programming or services focused on increasing access to services necessary to meet Boulder County community members needs or improve quality of life, increase economic stability and resilience, and increase safe environments for people with diverse identities. This includes but is not limited to, Family Resource Centers, financial assistance, financial literacy or other forms of self-sufficiency assistance, advocacy, legal representation and protection from violence or other forms of vulnerability, and social connectivity.

A virtual call was held August 9, 2022 to walk through the application process and answer questions from community partners. The video of that virtual call is below.