New halfway house in Kentwood for addicts

A Guiding Light Mission halfway house in Kentwood for men recovering from addiction. (June 16, 2015)

KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — Guiding Light Mission has opened a new transitional housing unit in Kentwood for men recovering from addiction less than a month after dozens turned out to a city commission meeting to protest a possible drug rehab facility at a different Kentwood location.

Guiding Light had proposed using an abandoned furniture store at 5022 Division Ave. as a male residential recovery program. The city would have had to rezone the property, which the commission decided not to do.

Kelloggsville Schools sent out a letter to parents, urging them to oppose the project. The Kelloggsville middle and high schools are a few blocks from the site.

The building remains vacant.

“I do think that the building being vacant is much more of a concern than being filled with recovering addicts,” Kelloggsville parent Theresa Eilers said.

She has three kids and lives less than a mile from the would-be rehab site.

She spoke up at the Kentwood City Commission meeting, saying that she thinks the school district shouldn’t have taken a position on the issue. She also said she doesn’t understand those who would say they don’t want people fighting addictions near their homes.

“They’re already there. They’re already there,” Eilers said. “Whether or not you decide to acknowledge it, every community has addicts. Some are more visible than others, and when you can visibly have help out there, that can only encourage people to get help.”

Eilers was happy to hear about Guiding Light’s new transitional housing in a different part of Kentwood.

The transitional home, the third of its kind created by the mission, will house eight men trying to overcome drug and alcohol addiction.

Stuart Ray, the executive director of Guiding Light Mission, said the nonprofit wants to have houses like this one for a simple reason:

“It could be my kid. It could be any of us,” he said.

The mission invested $40,000 into rehabbing the building.

He said there are strict rules for the men who live there: no overnight guests, tenants must have a job and savings, and there are random drug tests. Ray said if someone tests positive for drugs, they have to leave the house.

Ray said a typical landlord could expect to see a profit in a few years. While the mission does expect the home to eventually generate revenue, it will like take between 12 and 14 years. Ray said the mission sees it as an investment. He said the property will likely increase in value, and said it’s also an investment in the community.

Ray said that there is an extreme shortage of treatment beds in Kent County.

“There are basically three paths in addiction. It’s incarceration, it’s institutionalization or it’s death. None of those are acceptable to the value set of Guiding Light. None of them are acceptable to me,” Ray said.

Ray said the first tenant is expected to move in next week. He said Guiding Light tentatively plans to open a total of 10 transitional housing facilities.

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