A state agency provided $280,000 to help locals create a sober-living community in Vermilion Township.
Funds from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services aim to assist Genesis by the Lake purchase land and renovate a defunct condominium property formerly known as Chappel Creek. The property is located off U.S. 6 near Beulah Beach.
“We support your efforts to leverage state and local funds to assist people who are (recovering) from a substance-use disorder in having access to safe, decent and affordable housing that is conducive to recovery,” according to Jonathan Baker, a state project manager who wrote a letter approving the grant.
Two Erie County officials — health commissioner Pete Schade along with mental health and recovery board executive director Kirk Halliday — co-sponsored the successful grant application.
“This money will help the people who need a sober-living community,” Schade said. “It will help them flourish and get a new start in life. We feel this is the tip of the iceberg in terms of how we are going to show everyone in Erie County and in our region that collaboration works.”
“We are setting the trend for not only Northwest Ohio but (across the state) as well,” he said.
Schade and Halliday both credited the grassroots effort to build solutions, including help from:
• Tracy Plouck, the state mental health department’s director.
• Anita Bradley, executive director at Northern Ohio Recovery Association, a community-based, substance-abuse prevention and peer recovery support organization.
“This is what is needed,” Bradley said about the Genesis proposal.
In addition to the $280,000 grant, Genesis, a nonprofit organization, has already banked another $110,000 through private contributions.
More fundraising will be needed to offset some acquisition and renovation costs, but units at the sober-living community could be ready for occupancy as soon as late summer.
The failed condominium property went into bankruptcy more than a decade ago and became a county land bank property. In December, the Erie County land bank board approved a deal to sell it to Genesis for $300,000.
The local recovery movement has enjoyed enormous support, including an endorsement from local philanthropist Ruth Frost Parker.
“I’m very excited that we’re now fully funded to acquire the property and preparing it to rent out to folks,” Genesis president Rob Quinn said.
Residents at the sober-living property would be reserved for individuals who have established their sobriety. to live in the drug-free safe haven. It will be very much like any other condominium property only all the residents would have to be in full recovery and agree to the rules of a sober-living community.
Sober living support is part of a total circle of care for drug addiction recovery designed to assist law-abiding citizens in re-establishing themselves after graduating through a step program of recovery.
The total circle of care for recovery is designed to emphasize treatment over prisons and punishment and build strong support systems for people in recovery to save lives and reduce the staggering costs directly tied to the county’s drug epidemic.
“How do you put a price on one life? What is that one life worth?” Erie County commissioner Pat Shenigo asked. “I think the answer to that is it’s priceless, and we realize that. I know all the (Erie County) commissioners are behind what Genesis is doing, and we look forward to this group of individuals continuing to provide the services we don’t have right now.”
Genesis by the Lake is a separate operation but will be one part of the full circle of care in Erie County at other locations. The circle of care aims to connect several providers in Erie County, partnering with the medical community, law enforcement, judges, families, counseling services and others to achieve recovery solutions.