It’s official. The House of Hope is officially up and running after two people recovering from substance abuse issues moved in June 28.

Jenny Howard, president of the House of Hope Committee, said she is elated the sober living facility, which has been in the works for more than three years, has finally gotten to this point.

“I’m very excited, very fulfilled. I’m blessed by the fact that we’re going to help somebody. We want to keep these people in recovery and have them become contributors to our community again. I know that’s what they want, they just need the help to get to that point,” she said. “There’s so many times they get lost and they fall back on those old habits. They get to the end of their rope basically, they run out of options and they run out of help to keep moving forward. That’s what this house is all about, we’re going to keep them moving forward. That’s what this house is all about.”

Those who live in the 4,000 square foot home are referred by community addiction recovery programs and local correctional facilities. Up to 12 people at a time can live in the home on West First Street. While there, participants attend classes structured to their needs, participate in 12-step programs and have the ability to take cooking and financial coaching courses, said Director Ken Gowin.

Participants pay $185 a week and are expected to do chores around the house and have a job. They furnish their own food, but a single meal will be provided once a week, Gowin said.

Gowin, who works closely with people who have recently been released from prison as Graham County’s New Hope Re-Entry project director, said it’s easy for newly released prisoners to fall directly back into the same situation they were in before they were incarcerated.

“If we want to stop recidivism in our community we need to concentrate on helping these individuals,” he said.

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Eventually, Gowin said he hopes the House of Hope will be completely self-sustaining. Right now, one referral is coming in every two weeks, he said. In order to live in the home, applicants must be able to pass a urine analysis, be clinically evaluated and have a treatment plan. An applicant cannot be convicted of arson or violent crimes and must be interviewed by Gowin before they can live in the facility. The men must also have the desire to be sober, he said.

“I’ve been assessing the cost of running and we need at least eight participants to break even,” he said.

The Graham County Substance Abuse Coalition was the driving force behind the facility, but director Kathy Grimes said it never would have been built without the generosity of the community.

The $450,000 facility was funded by multiple organizations including United Way of Graham and Greenlee County, the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation and the City of Safford.

“We just want people to know that we are here to help the community. When people are ready for that, just know that there is a resource now in our community that is there for them,” she said. “We’re so excited about finally reaching our goal and are able to help individuals that would otherwise have to go out of town for these services.”

Gowin said he dreams of one day building a similar home for women suffering from substance abuse issues.

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