CRYSTAL LAKE – New Directions Addiction Recovery Services is working to create more sober-living beds – something president Chris Reed said McHenry County greatly lacks.
A five-person women’s recovery home is opening Dec. 15 at 171 Lincoln Parkway, Crystal Lake, and the organization recently was given a grant to help fund another sober-living home.
The organization was granted $279,000 on Oct. 24 by the McHenry County Mental Health Board. The grant will be used partially to support sober living case management, which offers people help in writing résumés, finding jobs and getting in touch with resources.
McHenry County has six sober-living homes with four in Woodstock and two in Crystal Lake, Reed said. He said this lacks in comparison with other counties, such as Kane County, which has about 20 homes.
Women’s recovery home
The women’s home originally was meant to house 12-people but saw backlash from neighbors during a public hearing in March 2016 to rezone the property. New Directions was requesting to rezone as a two-family residential home and receive a special use permit for a group dwelling, according to city documents.
Elizabeth Maxwell, senior planner for Crystal Lake, said New Directions withdrew the request after receiving unfavorable feedback from residents and the Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously against rezoning.
The property currently is zoned as a single-family residential home. Under city code, a single-family residential home can have five unrelated people housed there, allowing them to qualify under city zoning, Maxwell said.
“This is not a group home, but a regular single-family home with five people who are sober,” Reed said. “It will house five women as part of our program to provide women in recovery a place to thrive.”
New Directions currently has a waiting list of 15 women looking for a sober-living home and Reed said everyone who is accepted into any homes must pass a drug screen and in-person interview.
The women’s house, built in 1901, was purchased for $122,500 with a donation from the Foglia Family Foundation based in Chicago and has been remodeled in the past year.
Reed said New Directions has spent $100,000 on renovating and refurnishing the property, bringing in all new electrical, plumbing, drywall, HVAC and fixtures. Reed plans on restoring the barn behind the house because “it’s a cool old piece of McHenry County,” and also plans on replacing the roof, porch and exterior of the house.
One of the five residents of the house who is more established in their recovery process will be responsible for facilitating accountability, going to meetings and house chores.
“It’s just a safe environment for them to live in with some accountability,” Reed said.
No medical or clinical work will be done in the house, and residents will have access to case managers at New Directions. Residents will be required to be at dinner at 6 p.m., attend a 12-step meeting and be home by an 11 p.m. curfew.
“Requirements are to maintain sobriety, attend meetings and make progress toward life goals,” Reed said. “The biggest rule is to stay sober. Use in the house is not tolerated whatsoever.”
Local businesses that contributed to the women’s home include Jett’s Heating & Air, Gator Plumbing & Irrigation, Exceed Floor & Home, Old World Stone, Heartland Home Cabinetry, ABC Supply, Consolidated Electrical Distributors and International Painting and Drywall.
‘Overwhelming need’ for recovery housing
The men’s waiting list is at 42 people and their numbers are consistent with Rosecrance treatment centers, which New Directions works with to try to accommodate everyone.
“There’s an overwhelming need for housing in the recovery community, and unfortunately, there are only a few structured sober-living environments in McHenry County, and the wait lists are usually full,” Reed said.
Reed said he is not sure where the next sober-living house will be located, but said the organization focuses on Crystal Lake, McHenry and Woodstock. Home locations are decided based off ease of access, focusing on areas with good public transportation, employment and volunteer opportunities, Reed said.
“We want anybody who is living in one of our homes to easily be able to restart their life and reintegrate into the community,” Reed said. “Part of that is a social aspect, but it’s also employment, volunteer opportunities and we want wherever the house is to enable someone to participate all those.”
Funding is available for New Directions, and it hopes to have a house location selected within the next six months, Reed said.