Senate committee kills governor’s plan for homeless shelter in Fort Lyon

Politics
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper spoke to CNN Sunday about the slaying of DOC director Tom Clements.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, vetoed two bills Friday, the first time he’s used the veto pen since 2012.

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DENVER — A Senate committee killed a plan by Gov. John Hickenlooper to open a homeless rehabilitation shelter at the now abandoned Fort Lyon prison.

Hickenlooper’s plan was to turn the former prison into a rehabilitation center for homeless in Colorado.

The state would pay to bus volunteer mentally ill and addicted homeless people to Fort Lyon near Los Animas. There they would receive treatment and counseling on how to end their homelessness.

Los Animas would benefit from extra jobs the facility would create.

A bill granting money for the proposal passed the House last month.

However, Friday morning the Senate Appropriations Committee voted down the idea 5-2.

Democratic Senator Pat Steadman told the Denver Post she voted against the bill because “there’s a lot of work to be done.”

Republicans also worried the proposal was not fiscally sound.

Sam Tsemberis, of the nonprofit Pathways to Housing, told NPR he worried about the concept all together.

Tsemberis said research shows that renting apartments for homeless in the neighborhoods they live in works better than sending them elsewhere.

“You could skip all that transitional stuff, and go right to graduation from the street,” Tsemberis said. “Give the support services, and you wouldn’t have to go home by way of Fort Lyon.”

Los Animas could certainly use any economic boost. The Fort Lyon facility was closed two years ago when Colorado was dealing with a $1 billion budget shortfall.

The closure killed about 200 jobs in Bent County, where poverty rates were around 35 percent, the Post reported.

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