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Only two LGBTQ sober houses are in the U.S., one is in Cleveland

Posted at 9:35 PM, Nov 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-19 15:07:36-05

CLEVELAND — At first glance the B. Riley House looks like any normal home, but this place is much more than that.

"Coming here was my first attempt at getting help or where I finally realized that I needed help," said B. Riley House alum Mikey Pentkowski.

Pentkowski used drugs for 21 years.

"I literally came from the street into here and I was a mess," he said.

Pentkowski could have picked any sober home in Northeast Ohio, but he chose the B. Riley House.

"Being in a house that was 24/7 recovery and being that its an LGBT house made me feel more comfortable," said Pentkowski.

The B. Riley House is only one of two LGBTQIA+ sober houses in the entire country. Not only does that allow residents to be themselves, it sometimes helps them become themselves.

"When I came in here I was Melissa Pentkowski. Now I'm the person I was meant to be but I'm also clean and sober for the first time," said Pentkowski.

B. Riley House's executive director, Tony Correa, says there's countless stories like Pentkowski.

"The LGBT community is two times more likely suffer from substance abuse and addiction and that's because of social stigma, discrimination," said Correa.

That's one of the reasons why he opened the home three years ago, so it can get good people back to living.

"They're coming in here beat up, disowned by family, lovers-they have nothing no clothing," said Correa. "We help connect them to all the resources they need to be productive members of society."

This story is part of A Better Land , an ongoing series that investigates Northeast Ohio's deep-seated systemic problems. Additionally, it puts a spotlight on the community heroes fighting for positive change in Cleveland and throughout the region. If you have an idea for A Better Land story, tell us here .