Friday, January 13, 2012

Sidebar newsletter: Self-Sufficiency Standard shows the true cost of living for Colorado families

An article from the winter 2012 edition of Sidebar, CCLP's quarterly newsletter.

Staff and volunteers serve lunch at OUR Center in Longmont. Helping families with food enables them to stretch their budgets so they can put the money they save toward other expenses. Many people enjoy coming for meals because they appreciate the fellowship and support they receive from other folks who are also working toward self-sufficiency.
A critical part of alleviating hardship is identifying the true cost of basic expenses for Colorado families. That baseline, whether it’s annual income of $83,980 in Aspen or $43,220 in Pueblo, sets a standard families can use as a goal and lawmakers can use to guide policy.

Those are the ideas behind the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Colorado 2011, which the Colorado Center on Law and Policy released in October. The research shows the true cost of living for various family types in each Colorado county.

Organizations across the state use the Self-Sufficiency Standard to help families move toward long-term economic security. One of them is OUR Center (online at, a Longmont-based agency that provides a range of services for families in need.

OUR Center uses the standard and related tools to evaluate what resources would have the greatest effect on family financial stability, said Executive Director Edwina Salazar.

“It actually is reassuring to clients that ‘there isn’t anything wrong with me, that this is why I’m struggling. I’m struggling because the cost of child care is enormous, and until I get some resources to address this I’m not going to feel successful. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with me, there are structural issues here,’” Salazar said.

The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Colorado 2011 was prepared for CCLP by the Center for Women’s Welfare at the University of Washington School of Social Work. It’s online at

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