A generous gift from a local family means a “much-needed” expansion of the John Howard Society’s addictions recovery program is on the horizon.
During a press conference Tuesday morning, co-executive directors of the JHS North Okanagan/Kootenay Region, Randene Wejr and Kelly Fehr announced a $220,000 donation from the Foord family that allowed the JHS to put a downpayment on a $454,000 home they recently purchased to use as a sober living complex for men and women exiting treatment programs.
The renovated, two-level residence will be able to accommodate up to ten tenants — five of whom are expected to move in before Christmas. This addition brings the total number of “recovery spaces” in Vernon up to 38.
Fehr said this will go a long way toward closing the “sober living gap” in the community.
“When people do leave treatment, where do they go that’s a safe environment — where they will continue to have support,” he said during a media tour of the house Tuesday morning.
For those living on a fixed income, this can be especially challenging, Wejr added.
Part of staying sober, she pointed out, is being in an environment that is conducive to recovery. Part of that is giving people who need it, the financial space to get back on their feet.
“We’re not setting people up for failure here,” she said.
“We know, that even if you find a rooming house that might be affordable, it likely won’t include that support — it won’t be next to Bill’s Place (which is next door).”
On average, a single “employable” person under the age of 65, receiving social assistance, is allotted approximately $710 per month —$375 of that funding will cover the cost of rent at the new facility.
The 43rd Street sober living space is the only one in Vernon that will base its rental fee on social assistance rates, said Wejr, adding they will also prioritize spaces based on need.
It is anticipated that most residents will live at the house for up to one year while they return to work or school, continue with their own recovery, and take part in a mentorship program facilitated through Bill’s Place, which allows them to work with those in the earlier stages of recovery.
Having walked alongside the residents at Bill’s Place for the past five years, addiction services manager Brad Houghton knows first-hand, the kind of “crucial” impact being able to complete recovery in a safe environment can have on people.
“We see a lot of guys come through that are desperate, broken and wanting to change, and motivated to change. When you see these people start to believe in themselves again and start to get hope….and now, five years later being able to have the house next door to help them transition is fantastic for us.”