Denver gets new pilot program to help chronically homeless veterans
By Colleen O'Connor
The Denver Post
Posted: 08/24/2010 01:00:00 AM MDT
Army veteran Derrick Green prays in his apartment, funded by the VA and the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. Denver will be part of a pilot program that helps get more homeless veterans housing — and treatment for physical, mental and addiction problems. (Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post)Denver is one of five cities where the Department of Veterans Affairs will pilot a new program to help homeless veterans.
The program, funded with a $33 million grant over five years, will create a 40-bed program for chronically homeless vets.
Geographic need is one reason Denver was chosen. Currently, the closest program for Denver-area homeless veterans who require residential treatment for alcohol, drugs and psychological problems is in Sheridan, Wyo.
The Denver program will be housed in an existing building — not yet selected — and is expected to start in about 18 months. The other cities are San Diego, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Miami.
"It's not a shelter, but a therapeutic, holistic treatment center for homeless vets, because Denver is a hub for the homeless in general," said Jordan Schupbach, spokesman for the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System.
Residential treatment programs offer a variety of services, including help with medical, mental health and addiction problems and job-skills training.
A recent VA study of veterans who graduated from residential rehabilitation and transitional housing programs showed that 79 percent remained independently housed one year later.