MACHIAS—Washington County’s first recovery residence for women and their children is accepting applications for residents. Safe Harbor, a recovery home for women and children, is the result of a collaborative effort between Healthy Acadia, Downeast Community Partners, Aroostook Mental Health Center and the Community Caring Collaborative (CCC) to provide a safe, supportive and affordable living environment for women in recovery. The partners are part of the Washington County Substance Use Response Collaborative, made up of over 25 Washington County nonprofit partners and individuals in recovery, that has convened regularly since 2016 to address the impacts of substance use disorder.
One of the many adverse impacts of living with substance use disorder is the toll it takes on financial stability, employment, criminal records and other aspects of life necessary to secure housing. The impact of Maine’s growing housing shortage on people entering recovery prompted the collaborative to form a housing subcommittee in early 2019.
The collaborative’s decision to open a recovery residence in the region is based on need as well as successful models established elsewhere in Maine and across the country. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, recovery homes are viable and cost-effective alternatives to established recovery-oriented systems of care because they provide safe and healthy environments that support residents in their recovery. These communities empower people by providing support as they transition towards living independent and productive lives.
“People in recovery require more than clinical treatment to succeed,” says house manager, Katie Sell. “At a minimum, they need a safe place to live: a place that supports their efforts to do the difficult work of rebuilding their lives.”
Safe Harbor is the first recovery residence in Downeast Maine to be certified by the Maine Association of Recovery Residences. The home will operate as a non-clinical Level 2 program and will not provide treatment, but will support multiple and diverse pathways to recovery, including medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which is considered a best practice in the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD).
Healthy Acadia will manage staffing and programming at the recovery residence. Residents will participate in a variety of programmatic activities, including house meetings and recovery coaching. Coaches will work with residents who seek treatment, whether it be medication-assisted treatment, counseling, primary care or a combination, by referring and connecting them with treatment providers.
“Every resident will have a set of goals and will work with a Healthy Acadia recovery Coach and will connect with other resources in the community in order to make progress toward those goals,” said Abby Frutchey, substance use response coordinator at the CCC. “For some, finding employment and being able to pay some level of rent will be a goal right away, but for others, it may be different.”
The building, located in Machias, has been renovated with support from a $150,000 grant from the Maine Housing Authority. Renovations are nearly complete and the building, which is managed and maintained by Downeast Community Partners (DCP), will provide housing for up to five women and their children. Donations of household goods, toiletries and other gently–used items are welcome.
Safe Harbor will serve people from Washington and Hancock counties, but residency in either county is not a requirement. Often, individuals in recovery seek to relocate temporarily in order to change patterns, to be around different people and to avoid triggers that could lead to relapse. While there is much-needed focus on opioids currently, Safe Harbor will also serve women seeking recovery from other substances such as alcohol.
Women interested in living at Safe Harbor can find the application at www.HealthyAcadia.org.
Healthy Acadia is currently seeking applicants for recovery residence staff with various shifts available. Visit www.HealthyAcadia.org for information.
For information about the recovery residence, including questions about donations, contact Katie Sell at (207) 255-3741 or by email at [email protected].