DENVER — Fort Lyon reopened Tuesday as home to a new collaborative and innovative project that will help reduce chronic homelessness throughout Colorado and adds jobs in Bent County.
The 550-acre facility, which served as a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital, sanatorium and prison before it closed in 2012, will offer participants supportive housing, health services, substance abuse treatment, counseling and job training to enable them to transition successfully into independent living in the community of their choice.
The first 14 residents from Denver, Greeley and Pueblo moved in at Fort Lyon yesterday.
“This project will give homeless veterans and others new opportunities,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said. “The men and women who go to Fort Lyon will learn the skills they need to get back on their feet. We are grateful for the General Assembly’s support of this effort and applaud the work done by Bent County officials to help us transition this beautiful and historic facility into a place of recovery for some of our state’s most vulnerable individuals.”
Bipartisan legislation (SB 13-210) passed last spring designated the Fort Lyon property as a supportive residential community for the homeless. Fort Lyon will begin housing 80 clients by late fall; this will increase to 200 by July 2014, and could maintain a maximum capacity of 300 by July 2015.
The repurposing is part of Pathways Home Colorado’s ongoing effort to replicate best practice models, support regional priorities and become more strategic in preventing and ending homelessness.
According to the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, taxpayers annually spend $43,240 on individuals who live on the street without any effort to recover them. Whereas, for individuals who elect to participate in Fort Lyon’s supportive housing program, the state will have to invest only $16,813 to provide an effective recovery program.
After at least one-year of residency at Fort Lyon, clients will be eligible to receive a Section 8 housing voucher from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to return to permanent housing in another community.