Halfway house advocates petition for city funding

GREENFIELD — Advocates of a halfway house to help Hancock County residents recovering from drug and alcohol addiction have asked for $25,000 of taxpayer money.

The proposed Talitha Koum Women’s Recovery House, designed to help women battling addiction safely transition back to productive lives, would be the first of its kind in Hancock County. Advocates of Talitha Koum, a vacant house for which was donated to the cause in 2015, estimate they need about $250,000 to complete construction on the house and cover operational expenses for the first year, including salaries for a house manager and part-time residential assistants.

Linda Ostewig, director of the recovery house, is asking the Greenfield City Council to pledge $25,000 in support for the project when city budget hearings for 2017 begin in late summer.

The two-story house, 527 E. Main St. in Greenfield, was donated to the effort last year but is in need of renovation. Plans call for a large common area on the main floor, a laundry facility, a space for group meetings and counseling, along with four bedrooms and two bathrooms on the second level.

Friends of Recovery, a nonprofit formed to oversee the project, has raised about $57,000 since its inception last year, nonprofit members said. The additional $25,000 contribution from the city would allow construction work on the house’s foundation to begin, Ostewig said.

City councilman Joe Skvarenina asked the group to write the letter to the council, saying the home’s development is a worthy cause for city funding.

Greenfield Police Chief John Jester estimated three out of every four crimes his department investigates are drug-related; in 2015, the county saw 22 overdose deaths, up from 17 the year before, coroner records show.

Once completed, the facility will house up to 10 women at a time, all of whom will regularly attend in-house counseling and 12-step recovery programs. Residents will be charged for services on a sliding-scale fee, paying what they can afford, organizers said.

The group missed the opportunity to apply for city funding for 2016 but can make a formal request to the city council during the 2017 budget hearings scheduled for early August, said Greenfield Clerk-Treasurer Lori Elmore.

In August, the city council approved nearly $200,000 of city funding to support local nonprofits, which included allocations from $10,000 for the city’s Regreening Greenfield program to $50,000 for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hancock County.

Ostewig said the group is seeking funding from government entities, public charities, corporate sponsors and individual donors to further the project. Earlier this year, she introduced the mission of Talitha Koum — Hebrew for “Little girl, rise up” — to the Hancock County Board of Commissioners but asked for no funding.

“Your generosity can change lives and help individuals get back on their feet and participate in society,” her letter to the city council states.

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.