MOUNT VERNON — Knox County Commissioners received word recently that a new recovery house for up to five women in need of long-term care, located on Wooster Road inside the city, is expected to open by late winter to early spring.
A description of the recovery house came from Kay Spergel, executive director of Mental Health & Recovery for Licking and Knox Counties. She was delivering her annual report on mental health and addiction-related services, which are funded in both counties by a 1-mil levy.
The recovery house, a two-story home, was formerly a residence, Spergel said. Renovations took longer than initially expected but are nearing completion. The house was purchased for $180,000 using state capital dollars. A 25 percent match from MHR was funded by paying for $60,000 in renovation costs, the work being completed by Behavioral Healthcare Partners of Central Ohio.
Spergel described the two-story home as “beautiful,” one that includes a sun porch, spacious living areas and a yard. A similar long-term recovery house for women opened about a year ago in Licking County. The recovery house will involve Level 3 housing, which means it will need to be staffed around the clock, Spergel informed commissioners. Riverside Recovery Services offers a recovery house, as well, for men and women in Mount Vernon but it is more transitional in scope. The new recovery house serving up to five women is designed to be a permanent home for those with addiction and recovery needs — an average length of stay that can be from 12 to 18 months.
“Once the renovations are complete we still cannot open it until someone has been hired to stay on premises,” said MHR public information officer Emily Morrison. “Hiring someone can be a challenge because it must be someone who is peer-support certified, which means they have lived experience and they themselves will be in recovery.”
Morrison explained that the person in charge of the home will have gone through several years of successful sobriety before being hired to run the recovery house. And although the length of stay at the recovery house is expected at 12 to 18 months, “They are welcome to stay there the rest of their lives if they so choose,” Morrison said. “That typically doesn’t happen.”
Spergel also discussed MHR’s Fiscal Year 2018 receipts and expenditures related to the 1-mill levies in Knox and Licking counties, which went from July 2017 through June 2018. Knox County, with a population of about 61,000, received $1,119,623 in levy receipts, while much-larger Licking County, with about 173,000 residents, received $3,812,761. Knox County incurred a negative balance of $213,487 due to $1,333,110 in expenses, which will be balanced from the county’s MHR-related reserves, Spergel said. The deficit in Knox can be attributed to an overall increase in demand for addiction and recovery-related services, she told the News. Levy receipts from both counties are used to fund programs and services available to those in Knox and Licking, those entities including Behavioral Healthcare Partners, the Freedom Center, The Main Place Inc., New Directions, Pathways of Central Ohio and other entities.