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Ft. Lyon Supportive Residential Community Program Staves Off Closure Threat

Action 22 Logo

Action 22 Logo

Bent County and Action 22 won an important vote in the Senate today (Thursday), thanks to Senator Larry Crowder with support from senators on both sides of the aisle.

HB16-1411 proposes a study of the operation of Ft. Lyon and, even before the study was completed, proposed to close the facility in 2019 unless the General Assembly passed legislation to keep it open.

Sate Senator Larry Crowder

Sate Senator Larry Crowder

Senator Crowder moved an amendment on third reading to remove the provision that ended the program. The bill passed with Crowder’s amendment. If accepted by the House, the study will be completed without a foregone conclusion about closure.

At the request of Bent County Commissioner Bill Long and DOLA, Action 22 contacted senators asking for support for the amendment. Commissioner Long says Action 22’s influence played a role in successful passage.

When Ft. Lyon Correctional Facility in Bent County was decommissioned in 2012, Action 22 and many other partners fought to have the beautiful facility outside Las Animas repurposed. Legislation created the Ft. Lyon Supportive Residential Community in 2013 with funding through the Department of Local Affairs.

DOLA contracts with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless to provide services and with Bent County to manage the facility. Otero Junior College, Lamar Community College, Southeast Mental Health Services, Prowers County Medical Center and Valley-Wide Health systems are collaborative providers.

More than 650 people from around the state have received services at Ft. Lyon and exited, 225 of those transitioning into housing in their own communities. Education is a big part of the program and 319 folks have enrolled in educational programs.

The study will evaluate the effectiveness of the Ft. Lyon program, but DOLA calculates that it costs about $20,000 per year per resident to provide services. A harder number to calculate is the cost of dealing with the homeless in communities, but estimates run as high as $35,000 to $40,000 for providing emergency room visits, law enforcement and incarceration and other related costs.

This does not include the private sector costs when homeless are on the streets damaging property, committing crimes and impacting business activity.

Many who successful complete the program return to their communities as productive individuals who are not dependent on public services.

Action 22 is proud to have been a part of this effort to bring benefit to Southern Colorado. The organization is at its most effective when members actively participate and provide Action 22 with the support needed to give voice to Southern Colorado.

 

 

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