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Fort Lyon celebrates 10 years of recovery-based housing

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Eric Galatas

(Colorado News Connection) It's been ten years since Fort Lyon, a 19th century military post in rural Bent county, opened its doors to people experiencing homelessness with substance use disorders

Randy Stotts hit bottom living on the streets in Denver, and after years of avoiding offers of assistance, agreed to participate in the recovery-oriented transitional housing program. 

He said the program offers a wide range of tools to get to the root causes of addiction, and make it out safe and sound on the other side.

"And they give you all these different groups that you can go to," said Stotts. "Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Breathing Under Water, Sound Board, Red Road to Wellbriety, a chapel. They give you all these options to choose from."

The program - which combines housing with peer support, and educational, vocational, and employment services - has served over 2,200 people in its first decade

It costs nearly $46,000 per person per year to cover costs associated with chronic homelessness, according to the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, which launched the program. 

The cost per person at Fort Lyon is just under $19,000.

An onsite health center provides physical and mental healthcare, and residents help out with food services, facilities and grounds maintenance, and housekeeping. 

Stotts said the Fort Lyon community supported him throughout his recovery, and then a case manager helped him find long-term housing.

"After some recovery time - they want to make sure that you have some recovery - because if you don't have recovery, even getting new housing, more than likely you're going to lose the housing again," said Stotts. "If you haven't changed anything, then nothing's changed."

Now a Fort Lyon reintegration specialist, Stotts urged anyone ready to take those first steps toward recovery - and to start feeling better about themselves - to connect with Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.

"There's help available to people if they're just open to it, if they're willing to try it and if they're honest about it," said Stotts. "You know if a man like me can get off the streets, get sober and have the life I have today, I truly believe in my heart that anybody can."