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Foundation OKs funds for halfway house

The Harrison County Community Foundation Monday night gave full approval to The House of New Beginnings’ grant application for $90,000 to purchase ground for construction of a halfway house for recovering alcohol and other drug abusers in Harrison County.
Leah Fink, president of the non-profit agency that has struggled some two years to reach this stage, was elated at the news yesterday.
“This is Fat Tuesday for me, and today, I’m very happy,” she said, gleefully. “The House of New Beginnings can now buy the property.”
Fink said she was somewhat apprehensive about the Foundation’s award, because it usually invests its money in programs rather than property.
“I give them a lot of credit for looking forward because this isn’t particularly that popular as far as certain members of the community are concerned,” she said, referring to complaints that while a halfway house is needed it’s not wanted in a particular neighborhood.
Now attention must focus not only on construction but also on changing attitudes, Fink said. “This is not going to be a flop house,” she said. “These people are going to be there committed to getting sober, staying sober and bettering the lives of themselves, their families and the community in general. By the time it’s all said and done, they will be glad we’re there.”
Superior Court Judge Roger D. Davis, a staunch advocate of the project, said late yesterday that news of the Foundation award is “wonderful.
“I’m very pleased with the support from the Community Foundation,” the judge said. “The project will affect a lot of people directly and even more people indirectly.”
Davis said the project has benefitted from widespread support among community leaders, Republican and Democrat alike. The community will realize the benefits of not only helping substance abusers recover by providing the appropriate environment, but also by freeing space in the jail that can be used to house inmates from outside the county, for a fee.
The three Harrison County Board of Commissioners also unanimously OK’d the agency’s request for $90,000 Monday, and voted to take that request to the Harrison County Council.
Seemingly receptive, the council had heard The House of New Beginnings’ appeal recently and expected to take action on March 24.
Now, Fink said, The House of New Beginnings’ board at its next meeting will no doubt instruct her to withdraw the request for riverboat revenue. “We’re not trying to double-dip,” she said.
She believes the board will have no problem complying with the conditions for the grant set by the Foundation, which basically are the same as those the county would require: that the property revert to the Foundation if it isn’t used for construction within a certain time.
The next logical step is to proceed with fund-raising for construction. All total, the 32-bed, 8,370-square-foot facility for men is expected to cost $700,000 or more.
“I want to hunker down now and get on with this,” said the apparently indefatigable Fink. “All my energy has been focused on finding a place. Now I’ll put my energy into finding the money, every dime I can scrape up.”
She estimates construction could start in 1-1/2 years on the property at 545 Floyd Street in northeast Corydon.
The facility will provide a place where substance abusers can stay during the crucial early months of their recovery. It can help break the cycle of addiction, Fink said.
“I think that’s a benefit to our entire community.”
Residents at the halfway house must work, pay room and board, and attend programs as designated by the court, if they have been referred by the court. Still others will seek out the shelter on their own. Now, since Harrison County has no such facility, residents are sent to out-of-county facilities, if beds are available.
Commissioner J.R. Eckart, chair of the commissioners, said last night the need for a halfway house has been well established. “I believe this county has a definite need for this, and there are families who will benefit greatly.
“This facility doesn’t provide as much for one person who goes there as it does their family … It can really be a lifesaver. Not just for one, but for the whole group around them. One person can really wear down their quality of life.”
While Harrison County must continue to rely on outside sources for many things, Eckart said the halfway house needs to be in the community.