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Fort Lyon program aims to combat drug addiction, homelessness

Posted at 11:40 AM, Sep 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-16 13:40:21-04

BENT COUNTY- Five years ago, the Fort Lyon Supportive Residential Community Program starting accepting participants to tackle two major challenges: homelessness and drug addiction.

As the program celebrated its five-year anniversary this month, state lawmakers are taking a closer look at how it’s impacted the state.

‘Obviously we have room for improvement,’ said Sen. Leroy Garcia (Pueblo-D), who co-sponsored legislation as a state representative said, ‘I think as we look at those clients, what the cost to the taxpayer would be is about $50,000. Some of that’s in medical bills that they would be in the ER, that they would be in other places, that they would be in jail.’

The program works with the Coalition for the Homeless- which vets future participants to determine if they would improve in the program.

‘It’s amazing to see how much Fort Lyon has meant to changing their [lives],’ said Sen. Garcia, who visited the program along with other lawmakers.

Of the 777 participants who exited the program at the end of June 2017, 47% of them found permanent housing.

The program is funded through the state’s general fund, each participant costs $18,800 every year.

‘I think it serves us well to make an investment in something that we know has a great return on investment,’ said Sen. Garcia.

While the participants benefit from recovering from drug addiction and homelessness, it’s also providing an economic boost to the local economy in Bent County.

According to a study released by state lawmakers, the program has created 119 jobs at Fort Lyon, and more than $10 million of financial activity in one fiscal year.

Still, as the program grows Sen. Garcia says there are plans in the works to expand.

‘We want to make sure we do it in an incremental approach, that makes sense for Fort Lyon, that makes sense for taxpayer dollars,’ said Sen. Garcia.