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Recovery home closing leaves many wondering where to turn

The closures could have some significant impacts on those who now have to find somewhere else to call home
Published: Jan. 17, 2022 at 5:27 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The road to recovery is a tough one for people looking to stop using drugs and alcohol, and is often one with several steps along the way. One of the final steps for folks looking to make changes in their lives is often a halfway house or a recovery residence offering structure and accountability for those living there.

Residents at the Tree of Life were given several weeks’ notice to find a new place to live but, for people in recovery, that is often easier said than done.

“I’m looking at a couple of places but right now I’m not financially stable so I can’t just go and get an apartment somewhere, you know what I mean,” Zach Probst said.

He has lived at Tree of Life since September but now he, along with dozens of other residents, must find a new place to live.

Kevin Allen has lived here for years and says it’s helped him turn a corner in his life.

“I can’t even move, I don’t have a vehicle. They just gave me until Saturday to get my stuff out, I’m going to lose everything,” he said.

Despite working two jobs and recently graduating, Allen said he struggles to make ends meet and did not want to end up in a bad situation that could lead to him undoing all his hard work. He knows the facilities are in bad shape — he even said there were times he went without running water, but it was still better than some of the alternatives.

“It’s a safe haven. I don’t want to go to Creekwood or another neighborhood with drugs, get high, mess up what I’ve got going on. So that’s another reason I chose to sleep outside, sleep in there, cause I wanted to stay clean. I’m going to be great, I’m going to be a lawyer,” he said.

Jonathan Washburn is the former program director for Tree of Life. He said the facilities have been in need of major repairs for some time. From the stairs to the plumbing, the building is in rough shape so owners took action and decided to make the repairs.

There were additional problems with the program he said. The COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on residents’ abilities to work and pay rent, but despite that, Washburn said he never kicked people out for an inability to pay. Ultimately, the closure is for the wellbeing of everyone, as the building had bedbugs, roof leaks, plumbing issues, and more, that the owners did not address until now.

Kenny House, Vice President of Clinical Services for Coastal Horizons, said the impacts of a recovery home closing can be significant.

“Anytime that a recovery home closes, I think there is going to be a gap and there’s going to be some crisis, so to speak, in terms of people trying to figure out how they’re going to survive,” he said.

While there are some options for those looking for help in the region, the closures could have some significant impacts on those who now have to find somewhere else to call home.

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