DENVER — Friday, May 24, 2013 — The State of Colorado announced today the historical veterans’ facility in Bent County will begin serving veterans and chronically homeless individuals from across the state in late August.
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.
“Those referred to Fort Lyon will have access to the supports they need to maintain housing and a healthy lifestyle as they make the transition off the streets and back into their communities,” said Pat Coyle, Director of the Colorado Division of Housing.
Gov. John Hickenlooper today signed SB 13-210 at the facility in Las Animas. The bipartisan legislation determines correctional officer compensation practices and designates 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.
“In order to put an end to homelessness in the Colorado we need to think about new ways to serve the most vulnerable individuals in our state,” said Leanne Wheeler, a formerly homeless U.S. Air Force veteran. “At Fort Lyon we have the opportunity to lower the public cost for supporting the chronically homeless by more than 60 percent,”
According to the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, individuals who live on the street cost taxpayers $43,240 each year. Whereas, individuals who elect to stay at Fort Lyon will cost only $16,813.
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.
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