NewsCovering Colorado


Boulder, Boulder County to open first substance abuse recovery home

Posted at 1:47 PM, Feb 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-02 15:47:24-05

After years of work, the City and County of Boulder are four months away from opening their first substance abuse recovery home.

Julia Valdez-Albertson, 36, loves helping people at Tribe Recovery Homes in Denver, but says it was a long road to get there.

“I started smoking weed in middle school,” said Valdez-Albertson. “I started smoking meth when I was 14 when I moved out of state... I never really had a good example in my life. My father committed suicide when I was 18, and shortly after, I became pregnant with my oldest daughter.”

Valdez-Albertson quit meth for 12 years when she moved back to Colorado, but says things spiraled out of control all over again. She began using meth and smoking heroin.

She went to prison twice, and after her second release, became involved in several recovery programs, including Tribe, which eventually offered her a job.

“Just having that experience to share with people has been amazing,” said Valdez-Albertson.

Helping people like Valdez-Albertson is something the City and County of Boulder is trying to do through Project Recovery. The goal is to use existing housing to establish three recovery homes, modeling after Denver’s program.

“We do have sober living in Boulder, but it’s generally geared towards individuals with higher socioeconomic status, whereas Tribe actually leverages services for people who are Medicaid eligible,” said Heidi Grove, Homeless Solutions for Boulder County systems manager.

The homes will each house six to eight people at a time. There are several requirements for participation, including an employment requirement, mandatory volunteer work and weekly sobriety monitoring. Participants will be able to live there for a maximum of nine months.

“Have people come in, stabilize. They have a program, see their therapist, they have groups, therapy on a daily basis,” said Osvaldo Cabral, director of clinical operations at Tribe Recovery Center.

City officials say they’ve seen an increase in homelessness in the community over the last year and half, in addition to an increase in people suffering from substance use disorder.

In December, Boulder closed its main library after meth reside was found in its restrooms and seating area. It reopened nearly three weeks later, and the cleaning cost the city $225,000. The city also closed the RTD transit facility station's bathrooms due to meth contamination.

“Our library and our RTD station have both closed because of meth use, and other substances have also had a big impact on the community generally,” said Kurt Firnhaber, director of housing and human services with the City of Boulder.

That’s why they will be tackling an intensive housing-first approach program. It’s something Valdez-Albertson is excited to see.

“Everywhere there’s addicts, there’s one that’s ready to give up the lifestyle,” she said. “I do think there’s hope.”