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Halfway house residents struggle to buy food, medicine after facility issues run of bad checks | Premium

Residents of a private halfway house in Colorado Springs say they struggled for weeks to access personal funds for food, medication and other necessities while their halfway house-issued checks were rejected by banks and check-cashing services.

The snag at Community Alternatives of El Paso persisted despite administrators’ promises to fix the problem and held up money that belongs to residents, who are required to hand over their paychecks and other income as a condition of their incarceration. The halfway house takes out money for rent and restitution and issues residents periodic allowances.

Remaining funds in the residents’ accounts are returned, minus any rent and restitution, after their release.  

Starting in late August, CAE’s bank, Community Banks of Colorado, repeatedly refused to honor the allowance checks, but not before some residents believed they had successfully deposited them.

The resulting confusion caused some residents to overdraw their personal checking accounts, deepening their financial woes as they prepared for release, several residents told The Gazette. Others were turned away from check-cashing services, forcing them to borrow money from family members and friends to cover their expenses.


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Although food is provided at CAE, many residents leave on work release and eat outside the facility, and others avoid the food that’s served, which comes from the El Paso County jail.

For Robert Thompson, the issue was the latest hurdle to obtaining a critical seizure medication while incarcerated at CAE.

After being transferred to CAE from the El Paso County jail in July, Thompson said he went two days without his daily medication. When administrators took him to an urgent care center after his repeated complaints, a provider there prescribed him half of his normal dose of 1,000 mg twice daily.

Thompson attributes his struggle over medications for contributing to seizures while in CAE custody that led to two trips by ambulance to UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central, where doctors restored his normal prescription and said his seizures could cause brain damage and even death.   

“They are endangering my life,” said Thompson, 59, who estimated that up to a third of the population — about 170 people as of August — struggled to access their money.

Thompson provided receipts from Walmart and King Soopers showing that his CAE checks were rejected by check-cashing services at a time he said he needed to refill his prescription. He eventually received a new check from CAE and purchased a refill two days before running out.

He said Walmart and King Soopers had so many problems with checks from CAE that they stopped accepting them.

In a memo posted Sept. 23 at CAE, and obtained by the newspaper, administrators instructed inmates not to cash checks issued between Aug. 20-Sept. 22, citing a “system error at the bank.”  

Two other residents said they had checks returned prior to that period, and receipts examined by the newspaper showed problems continued afterward.


Coronavirus outbreak at Colorado Springs halfway house widens,

UF Health Jacksonville, YMCA join forces for rehabilitation, fitness facility in Nassau

UF Health Jacksonville and the First Coast YMCA have opened a combination rehabilitation facility and fitness center at Wildlight in Nassau County, a new master-planned community near Yulee.



a man doing a trick on a skateboard: Leon L. Haley Jr., CEO of UF Health Jacksonville (right) and Eric Mann, president/CEO, First Coast YMCA, cut a ribbon to open their agencies' combination rehabilitation and fitness center in the Wildlight community near Yulee. Behind them is Jeanne Bradshaw, rehabilitative services, UF Health Jacksonville.


© Provided by UF Health Jacksonville
Leon L. Haley Jr., CEO of UF Health Jacksonville (right) and Eric Mann, president/CEO, First Coast YMCA, cut a ribbon to open their agencies’ combination rehabilitation and fitness center in the Wildlight community near Yulee. Behind them is Jeanne Bradshaw, rehabilitative services, UF Health Jacksonville.

UF Health Rehabilitation-Wildlight has 36,000 square feet of space, including a 25,000-square-foot YMCA; physical and occupational therapy and speech-language pathology; and a healthy-living center. A 15,000 square-foot expansion is planned for specialty rehabilitation services.

The center will “bring the latest innovations in healthy living to a rapidly growing part of Northeast Florida,” according to UF Health.

“This is a great day for Wildlight and Nassau County because the people who live here can now get the best possible rehabilitation services along with an amazing, state-of-the-art fitness facility, all right here in their community,” said Jeanne Bradshaw, director of rehabilitative services for UF Health Jacksonville. 

Plans for Wildlight, off Florida A1A east of Interstate 95, include a mix of homes, townhomes and rental apartments; shops and restaurants; an elementary school; and a system of trails and pathways.

UF Health Jacksonville has already established a presence in Wildlght. In December the hospital system opened a medical complex there that provides comprehensive health services, including family medicine, pediatrics, women’s services, dentistry and an urgent care center, and advanced medical technology.

Construction on the rehabilitation-YMCA project began in April 2019.



an empty road in front of a house: This is a rendering of the newly opened UF Health Jacksonville and First Coast YMCA rehabilitation and fitness center in Wildlight, a new master-planned community in Nassau County.


© UF Health Jacksonville
This is a rendering of the newly opened UF Health Jacksonville and First Coast YMCA rehabilitation and fitness center in Wildlight, a new master-planned community in Nassau County.

“Residents of Wildlight and the communities around it now have access to the most advanced health care and rehabilitative services possible, all alongside a fantastic YMCA that offers the most complete and innovative fitness resources possible,” said Leon Haley Jr., CEO of UF Health Jacksonville and dean of the University of Florida College of Medicine-Jacksonville. “When we kicked off this Wildlight collaboration … this was our vision and it’s rewarding for all of us to see it come to fruition.”

The new YMCA includes a fitness center, group exercise studios, indoor running track, dedicated children’s area and youth sports leagues and education programs.

“The First Coast YMCA is excited to offer a new location to the growing Nassau County community and surrounding areas including St. Marys [Ga.],” said Eric Mann, First Coast YMCA’s president and CEO. “More than a gym, the new Wildlight YMCA will serve as a total wellness destination for the community by combining the YMCA’s tools and resources focused on healthy living with the medical expertise of UF Health. We know this location will provide critical programming to connect families and neighbors together safely for generations to come.”

Chris Corr, president of Raydient Places + Properties, developer of Wildlight,