Ridge View Youth Service Center May Have New Focus Serving Homeless Community
ARAAPAHOE COUNTY, Colorado – A state-owned secure youth center that has been vacant for several months may have a new purpose.
In June, the Colorado Department of Human Services decided not to renew the contract with the facility’s operator, Rite of Passage.
He cited an “unsatisfactory performance and integrity record” and “confirmed reports of institutional abuse,” according to Denver7 documents obtained through open case requests.
“It has served a great purpose for these young people for many, many years, but that population does not necessarily exist for us in the Youth Services Division today,” said Division Director Anders Jacobson.
Now Governor Jared Polis and several state and local agencies have a new plan for it: to turn it into a supportive residential community.
“People need help. Leaving them on the streets is not the solution. Putting them in jail is not the solution,” he said during a visit to the establishment on Monday. “To build something like this would cost $ 120 million to $ 150 million from scratch. But because we have a facility that was underutilized and we can reuse, the cost will likely be less than 10% of that.”
According to the state’s Office of Homeless Initiatives, the site is said to be a place for homeless people to obtain temporary housing while receiving help with their recovery from addiction and mental / behavioral health.
“We know that for people who need to work on their behavioral health or their recovery, it’s almost impossible to do if you don’t have a safe and stable place to live,” said Yumiko Dougherty, director of strategic planning and implementation at the CDHS. .
The facility’s over 500 acres, multiple residential halls, and distance from neighboring towns are what captured the governor’s imagination.
“Not only does it make it harder to relapse and acquire illegal substances, but it’s also great to be able to walk outside and be part of a healthy healing process to overcome addiction,” said Governor Polis.
And unlike a temporary facility for struggling youth, it would function as an open campus, and people can come and go as they please.
“For some who need that kind of separation and peaceful environment from the hustle and bustle, I think it might be helpful,” said Britta Fisher, housing manager in Denver.
Governor Polis said one-time funds that the city of Aurora, Aparahoe County and the state have yet to use as part of the US bailout will be used to help fund the program.
If the program gets the funding and legislative approvals it needs, it could open within the next two years.