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August 15, 2018

Contact Information:
Natriece Bryant, Chief Administrative Officer
303-864-7707 - office

Cathy Alderman
Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
303-312-9638 – office


Denver, CO - - The “Evaluation of the Fort Lyon Supportive Residential Community” was released this week by the Colorado Legislative Audit Committee, after a two-year evaluation was conducted by Illuminate Evaluation Services, LLC. pursuant to funding authorization by the Colorado General Assembly in 2015.

Fort Lyon Supportive Residential Community is unique, as it serves residents who have experienced chronic homelessness and who are challenged by substance abuse. The majority of participants also have existing chronic physical and mental health conditions. The Program’s primary purpose is to provide transitional housing and facilitate peer-based recovery for individuals suffering from a substance use disorder and currently experiencing homelessness, with a priority for serving homeless Veterans.

Since the program opened five years ago in Bent County, the report states the program served 968 residents and 777 have exited the program, of which 47% exited to permanent housing, and another 29% exited to transitional housing situations, for a total of 76% exiting to housing.

The following are other key findings from the report:

  • The average total costs per Fort Lyon Program participant decreased by 33 percent from pre-enrollment in the Fort Lyon program to post-enrollment, including an 80 percent reduction in judicial costs (incarceration, probation and jail).
  • Participants who stay in the Fort Lyon program longer, and those who participate in employment opportunities while in the Program, have greater odds of completing the Program and exiting to permanent housing.
  • A participant's severity of drug and alcohol use history was not a significant predictor of completing the Program or exiting to permanent housing.
  • A benefit cost analysis performed for the Bent County Development Foundation on the Fort Lyon Program estimated the economic activity at Fort Lyon generated 119 jobs and approximately $10.3 million of financial activities in Colorado in 2015 to 2016 alone.

Estimates of the public cost of leaving these individuals homeless and on the streets can cost between $30,000-$50,000 annually because of a higher use of emergency departments, jails, detox facilities, and other public systems. The Fort Lyon Program looks to resolve each participant’s homelessness, find long-term housing stability, and to reintegrate the residents into their community of choice. The report shows that there is an annual cost of $18,800 per year per resident from 2014 to 2017, but also an increased cost savings in things such as overall medical expenses and outpatient treatments one year after they completed the program.

“The increased cost savings shows that the program is working,” said Irv Halter, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA). Halter also stated that, “We are seeing Hall of Fame outcomes at Fort Lyon as people who have consistently not been successful in other programs are meeting their goals and staying off the streets for the time they are in our program.”

The program has faced some scrutiny due to the costs associated with serving homeless Coloradans; however, it does show that there are benefits to providing comprehensive services and a recovery focus prior to or while seeking permanent housing for the residents. “Over the last five years, the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) has been honored to serve the residents of Fort Lyon who often represent the most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness in Colorado. We provide a recovery-oriented program that gives our residents’ an opportunity to focus on vocational skill attainment, education, and life skills as part of their recovery” says John Parvensky, CEO of CCH.

Based on the findings in the evaluation that employment and length of stay contribute to greater success, DOLA and CCH are bringing in five AmeriCorps volunteers to help residents initially adapt and maintain a sense of direction when first arriving at Fort Lyon and to start a temporary work agency that will coordinate temporary jobs for those that are not yet ready for permanent employment. All of this work will be done in coordination with each resident’s personal goals.

Many residents, during and after recovery, are also engaging in the Las Animas and Bent County communities for educational opportunities and long-term stability through housing and employment. The economic growth and development in Bent County through some of the work from the Ft Lyon Program has been great for businesses. There have been 119 jobs created through the program alone. “The residents are coming out to the community and working, utilizing their vocational skills attained in Fort Lyon, and becoming productive members of our community,” said Kim MacDonnell, Bent County Commissioner.

To read more from the report, visit: