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Going all the way on a halfway house

One of the ironies of the “halfway house” is that it’s a wonderful institution that scares people to death.
Neighbors will put up with all kinds of racket from thoughtless neighbors and dogs that never stop barking, but when someone wants to put in a harmless home for recovering alcoholics, people who sincerely want to improve their lives and walk the straight and narrow, then some neighbors go ballistic. Almost always for no good reason. The brave people who commit to temporarily living in a halfway house are not predators. (No, the real predators are most likely the nice, sneaky guys who live next door.)
So, the question becomes, where does a halfway house belong? Where is the best place for men (and, less frequently, women) who have hit bottom and want to reorder their lives and become good constructive citizens? Where should they live? Should it be in a mainstream neighborhood full of good people who can offer good examples and good support, or should it be somewhere out in the boondocks, where they will feel ostracized and or subhuman?
The Harrison County Council is now wrestling with this kind of problem as it tries to decide the best place for a halfway house, to be called The House of New Beginnings. Oddly, the council has been strongly encouraged to look at a $70,000 piece of property at the end of Summit Street in Corydon. If you’re looking for a deal on sinkholes, this is it. But, if the council acts wisely, as we believe it will, it will reject that rather large site because it would take a small fortune just to fill in the sinkholes before a building could go up.
There must be better places for a halfway house, to serve at least 25 to 30 men at a time who now must leave the county because Harrison County lacks such a facility.
One good location not far away has already been rejected: several acres next to the The Next Step, a self-help support center on Big Indian Road near Cedar Hill Cemetery. The Next Step is one of the best, most vital and least understood institutions in Harrison County. For years, it has been a friendly support center and meeting place for people trying to eliminate drug and alcohol dependency from their lives. People who wanted to put The House of New Beginnings there were rejected two years ago for three basic reasons. First, neighbors objected. It’s what Harrison Superior Court Judge Roger Davis calls the “NIMBY Syndrome”: “Not in my back yard.” Also, that area is not zoned for single family dwellings, and the Town of Corydon didn’t want any more residences that were not on the town water system.
Maybe the town plan commission and the neighbors would be more receptive if another overture were made and everything about halfway houses were clearly spelled out. The halfway house officials take care of their problems, and it would eventually be self-supporting.
Another possible location is the old Harrison County Jail on North Capitol Avenue, which now stands unused. To be made into a halfway house would require extensive renovation, but it would be centrally located for men who don’t drive and would most likely have local jobs. However, some officials apparently believe that building would be best used for county archives or storage.
What is encourging is that the members of the council know that we need a halfway house to provide a home for courageous people who might otherwise waste the rest of their lives in and out of jail. The least we can do is try to help them with a decent place to stay.