By Tom Relihan, Greenfield Recorder Staff
Franklin County, a region that has historically lacked adequate long-term addiction treatment options, will soon have a new women’s sober housing option in Greenfield.
The house, located at 317 to 319 Deerfield St., is owned by the Greenfield Housing Associates, the nonprofit arm of the Greenfield Housing Authority, which works to provide low-income families with the opportunity to obtain subsidized housing and transition to non-subsidized housing.
Some of the money to renovate the property was provided by the town through $150,000 of its Community Development Block Grant.
The Housing Associates obtained the property after it was taken for back taxes.
Some of the money came from past Firebird 5k foot races, according to race organizer Devon DeKorver, who has been working on the project. This year’s race, held in June, netted about $9,000 and attracted about 160 runners, she said.
She said the house is intended to be a service that helps addicted women bridge the gap between short-term detox and long-term recovery and independent living.
Each resident will share one of the apartments with a roommate.
DeKorver said day-to-day administration of the house will be overseen by Sage Housing Inc., a Quincy-based nonprofit that seeks to increase the availability of affordable housing options and enhance community development, with clinical support from the Center for Human Development in Greenfield.
There will be no clinical management or staff constantly supervising the building, DeKorver said. The residents will elect one of their number to be house manager, who will be responsible for making sure day-to-day tasks and housekeeping are done.
When residents apply for housing, they’ll agree to submit to drug tests to ensure sobriety, DeKorver said.
“If anyone feels that someone is in danger or there’s some suspicious behavior, there will be a drug test,” she said. “Most likely they’ll be identified by those around them, who know what to look for. This is a program of independence, but you still have someone you can reach out to and you’re monitored enough where if you’re using, that would be noticed.”
DeKorver said there are no plans to cap how long a resident can stay, but there would be enough influence to move on to the next step of their lives where they typically wouldn’t want to stay forever. Tenants must be employed or in school while living in the house.
“Sage Housing has been working closely with a group of people in the recovery community to create sober living opportunities in this area,” a press release from the organization read. “While there is a great need for supportive safe sober housing in Franklin County for both men and women, the greatest gap is for women in early recovery.”
The Greenfield Housing Authority will provide rental subsidies for the future tenants, DeKorver said.
Tenancy at the house will include access to other recovery services, including peer recovery coaching. Residents will be encouraged to share one meal together each week to build community among themselves, DeKorver said.
“The philosophy of this recovery housing is that abstinence alone will not treat the problem, there needs to be sufficient replacement, which can be found in a community setting,” the release read. “Addiction cannot thrive in a community of like-minded people working to create a strong foundation of recovery. This can be achieved by showing love and empathy while maintaining a safe and stable housing environment. He or she will then know an awareness of a power that is beyond intellectual description. This will manifest into a desire to share it with others who appear to be similarly afflicted.”
Recently, a new detox center opened in Greenfield on Federal Street. That facility includes 64 beds, 32 of which are reserved for women.
Originally appeared on August 9, 2016: http://www.recorder.com/Greenfield-sober-housing-3868188