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Group appeals to council for halfway house funds

The House of New Beginnings hopes its third try succeeds at building a halfway house in Harrison County.
Neighbors successfully fought a zoning battle a few years back when an attempt was made to build next door to The Next Step on Big Indian Road in Corydon, a gathering spot for persons recovering from alcohol and other drug addictions.
Next, in 2001 The House of New Beginnings found 6.8 acres of land, already zoned appropriately, in Corydon, with a selling price of $70,000. The agency asked for that amount from riverboat revenue, but county officials found the terrain less than desirable due to a large sinkhole and declined the request.
This time, the non-profit agency has already secured the zoning approval, a major hurdle, to operate a halfway recovery house for men with substance abuse problems. Now, it needs $82,000 to buy the ground at 545 Floyd St. in northeast Corydon. Another $8,000 is needed to cover closing costs, surveys, and architectural and engineering fees.
It’s important to own the necessary land before applying for other types of grants to help with construction, said Corydon attorney Leah Fink, the president of The House of New Beginnings, at Monday night’s meeting of the Harrison County Council.
The group has also applied for $90,000 from the Harrison County Community Foundation, but won’t have an answer to that grant request for another couple of weeks. Fink told the council it’s not likely the full request, if any, will be approved. So the group is asking the council as well.
The council, although seemingly receptive, encouraged the group to continue looking elsewhere. The House of New Beginnings intends to seek approval of its latest plan from the commissioners on March 3 and then return to the council on March 10. Monday night’s council meeting was a planning session, so no formal action was expected then.
Fink said construction of the 32-bed, 8,370-square-foot facility is expected to cost about $700,000.
Once the land has been purchased, there are many resources for grant funds, Fink said. “Once you have the property, there is a lot of funding available,” she said.
Questions also arose about operating costs, and Sylvester (Vest) Ladd explained that residents are often at the house as part of a court-ordered probation or sometimes on their own for the support such a facility can provide during recovery. Residents must work and pay room and board, typically $10 a day. That’s the same amount inmates pay while on work release from the jail.
Residents must remain sober and attend regular self-help meetings, or they must leave, Ladd said.
In response to a question on meeting operating expenses by Councilwoman Rhonda Rhoads, Superior Court Judge Roger Davis said the program could help pay for itself by opening up beds in the jail that could then be filed with Indiana Dept. of Corrections prisoners at $35 per day for each.
Once the facility is “up and going,” it should have no problem paying for itself, Davis said.
Residents would be accepted from other counties if space allowed, but Harrison County residents would get first priority, Fink said.
Council chair Gary Davis invited the group to return to the council at its March 10 meeting. In the meantime, he said, “We look forward to the Community Foundation’s decision.”

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