In its second year, the Colorado Latino Policy Agenda seeks to provide elected officials, community leaders, and policymakers with insight into the composition, views, and priorities of Latinos in Colorado.
“The 2022 Colorado Latino Policy Agenda makes it clear that the challenges facing Latinos in terms of jobs, housing and the economy are serious — and require significant action from local, state and federal officials,” said Alex Sánchez, President and CEO of Voces Unidas de las Montañas and Voces Unidas Action Fund, at a press conference for the new report on Wednesday 14 September.
“With fresh data that reveals new priorities for Latinos, this year’s report also allows us to expand our research base beginning in 2021 as we work with elected officials and community leaders to recommend and research solutions for the future,” added Alex Sánchez added.
The 2022 Report was commissioned by the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), the COLOR Action Fund, Voces Unidas de las Montañas, and the Voces Unidas Action Fund.
Conducted by BSP Research, the poll polled 1,504 registered Latino voters from across the state. Gabriel Sanchez, who led the survey for BSP Research, said Wednesday that this is “the largest survey of its kind in Colorado” and is designed to give it a small margin of error as well as the ability to compare results from four regions in the country Federal State.
The survey results are broken down by segment, including demographics, and by Denver, Northeast, Southeast and Western Colorado regions.
“This is unprecedented research and we have never been able to pull out data by region or by congressional district. The localization of data is crucial to the discussions that need to be held at the local and regional level. Our goal is for community members, policymakers, media and others to have relevant survey data that can be used for local action,” Alex Sánchez said in an interview with Vail Daily on Thursday
Furthermore, the importance of this data can be seen in some of the data itself. At the press conference, Gabriel Sanchez said that while the report shows great enthusiasm and intent for Latinos to vote, 58% responded that they had not been contacted (or mobilized) about political and political matters in the state.
In Congressional Districts 2 and 3 — both of which represent parts of Eagle County — those numbers were even higher, with 67% and 69% of participants saying they had not been contacted about the election. These were the highest percentages in the state.
With that, Alex Sánchez said Wednesday it showed the “need to do more to ensure we all participate in democracy,” and urged the Colorado political system and candidates to “do better.”
“Mainstream polls often include Latinos. But in a sample of 500, Latinos represented perhaps 30 to 60 people — mostly from urban areas — in the survey. This is inappropriate and not representative of our community and rural parts of the state,” he added Thursday. “Our poll is historic; We polled 1,504 Latinos and only about 500 were from Denver, which means that about 1,000 of the voters are rural Latinos.”
One of the key highlights of the 2022 poll is that Latinos in Colorado continue to experience economic hardship, Sanchez said at the news conference.
Specifically, economic issues filled four of the top five priorities that respondents across the state identified as the top issues they wanted Colorado officials to address. These four themes were jobs and the economy, tackling the rising cost of living and inflation, improving wages and income, and creating affordable and accessible housing. In the western region, this rising cost of living has been reported as the #1 problem (relative to jobs and the national economy).
(The fifth edition — which ranked fourth nationally and third in the western region — covered gun violence and mass shootings.)
These priorities were also reflected in the poll’s questions on the issues that would make them more likely to support candidates in future elections.
While economic concerns are a continuation of concerns raised by Colorado Latinos in the 2021 Latino Policy AgendaThe situation has taken on a new urgency as 50% of respondents – 44% in the western region – report that their economic situation has deteriorated over the past 12 months.
In highlighting the differences between regions, one of the areas where Latinos from western Colorado responded differently was the issue of mental health.
“The data suggests that our current mental health care system is not working for all Latinos. Simply funding the existing system without systemic changes will not solve the problem that our mental health care system is ill-prepared to meet the needs of all Latinos, especially in rural areas where the system has created monopolies under one size fits all. everyone,” said Alex Sánchez on Thursday.
Fifty percent of respondents in the western region said that while there are some good aspects of Colorado’s mental health system, “fundamental changes are needed to make it work better for the Hispanic/Latino community.”
However, nearly a third of western respondents (31%) reported that the system “does too much wrong” and needs a complete rebuild to better serve the Hispanic/Latino community. This was compared to 23% statewide who said they felt that way.
“Economic numbers in the 2021 and 2022 dates indicate that Latinos are facing an unprecedented economic strain that is further impacting the health and well-being of families. The fact that 57% of Latinos nationally have less than $1,000 in emergency savings speaks to the alarming stress Latinos experience,” said Alex Sánchez
Reducing healthcare costs was also given a (slightly) higher priority in the western region than in other Colorado regions. In the western region, 22% of respondents identified this as an important issue, compared to 20% of national respondents.
Solving these challenges, added Alex Sánchez, will require more than just funding.
“We don’t just repair defective systems with money. It has to involve system and practice changes,” he said. “Some of the solutions need to involve recruiting new, more culturally competent providers to the area to expand access and also improve services. We need to work better at attracting and retaining color providers who better understand the communities we serve. We need to attract and retain mental health system leaders at all levels to ensure people with expertise are helping to transform the system.”
One of the things the policy agenda did differently in its second year was to take that data and create a set of recommended policy actions that the organizations involved in the survey would like to see acted upon.
“We have incorporated every political preference that Latinos overwhelmingly support. Each recommendation has 2-to-1 support,” said Alex Sánchez. “That means Latinos across the state, regardless of region or party, most likely have support (those preferences). We hope these recommendations will serve as a roadmap for policymakers.”
The 2022 report identifies five main policy areas for action. These include policies on housing, the environment, health and reproductive health, as well as proposed measures on gun safety and increased taxpayer investment.
Regarding housing, some of the proposed policies include limiting the amount landlords can increase mobile home rents (which 88% of respondents supported), helping families to buy homes near quality schools, workplaces and public transport by building up, not outside (71% support of respondents) and by allowing multiple units to be built on a single lot (70% support of respondents).
In terms of environmental policies, 80% of respondents (87% in western Colorado) supported passing regulations for RV parks to provide residents with safe drinking water.
At Wednesday’s press conference, Beatriz Soto, director of the Protégete for Conservation Colorado, said these and other results showed the urgency and clear need for action “regarding water quality in our communities.”
Other environmental recommendations included steps to transition to a clean energy economy (with 70% support) and extending discounts to electric vehicles and solar energy (with 69% support).
In health and reproductive health policies, the greatest support was shown for expanding basic health services to those who cannot afford insurance regardless of immigration status (with 78% support), allowing permanent access to safe and legal abortions in Colorado (68% support and more).
On gun safety, there was reportedly strong support for requiring background checks on all firearm sales (85% reported), raising the age to 21 for purchasing assault rifles (75% support), and introducing a 10-day waiting period for the purchase of a firearm (75% support). In addition, 66% of respondents supported a ban on the purchase and sale of assault rifles.
Finally, there are recommendations to increase taxpayer investment in community programs to get more funding (80% expressed support), K-12 education and higher salaries for school employees (72% support), improved training and regulations for law enforcement officials (67th %), increased access to childcare services for low-income families (67%) and more access to reproductive health resources (67%).
To view the 2022 Colorado Latino Policy Agenda or to learn more about the effort, visit ColoradoLatinoPolicyAgenda.org.