CDHS and Colorado Coalition for the Homeless to expand supportive housing services

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DENVER (Jan. 27, 2021) — The Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) and the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) will fund 25 additional supportive housing apartments for unhoused individuals who have been ordered to outpatient competency restoration services, bringing the program total to 53 Denver-based units. 

Individuals ordered to competency restoration services are deemed incompetent to stand trial and must receive treatment before continuing the legal process. CCH already provides 28 units of supportive housing for these clients and has admitted 28 individuals since March of last year. 

“We are working hard to expand high-quality competency restoration services in communities,” said Robert Werthwein, director of CDHS’s Office of Behavioral Health (OBH). “I am excited to expand this partnership and serve more Coloradans in need. These units will go a long way in ensuring Coloradans with mental health needs are successful in the community.”

Program residents live in independent apartments with a sleeping area, bathroom and kitchens or kitchenettes. They also receive case management services, clinical counseling, integrated health care, transportation assistance and other community support. The OBH Forensic Services division is working with criminal justice stakeholders to raise awareness of the program and encourage referrals. 

“We are honored to be working with CDHS and other partners to bring more supportive housing and services online for those most in need of housing to help end homelessness in Denver and throughout Colorado,” said John Parvensky, CCH's president and CEO. “This partnership will prevent people from a continuing cycle of homelessness and improve opportunities to address critical physical and mental health issues.”

More than $3.4 million in fines paid by CDHS under a legal agreement with Disability Law Colorado went toward CCH’s supportive housing initiative, which pairs rent assistance with wraparound services. CDHS and CCH agreed to reserve 28 apartments for forensic clients and now will spend another $1.5 million in paid fines to furnish the additional 25 units.

“Colorado Coalition for the Homeless’s supportive housing initiative presented a unique and timely opportunity for the use of fines generated by the consent decree,” said Mark Ivandick, managing attorney of the Denver office of Disability Law Colorado. “The Fines committee, consisting of the Special Masters, Disability Law Colorado and the Office of Behavioral Health, recognized the delay and expense involved in providing supportive services and a roof over the heads of pretrial detainees needing competency services, making the supportive housing initiative a good fit with the mandate of the consent decree. In addition, reducing homelessness should have the desired effect of decreasing encounters with law enforcement and the use of jails to manage nonviolent offenders. The supportive housing initiative is a win-win for everyone, and the Coalition deserves recognition for making it happen.”

The agreement, filed in the form of a consent decree, also requires CDHS to pay a maximum of $10 million in fines in a 12-month period if the department fails to meet a series of timeframes for providing competency evaluations and restoration services. The fines levied are to be used to enhance community mental health services, including the 53 units of supportive housing.

Media contact:
Madlynn Ruble, Deputy Director of Communications