Erie County is taking an unconventional approach to tackle the heroin epidemic by creating a special sober living community for moms and their kids.
“One of the biggest things we were trying to do here is get our community back together," said Peter Schade, Erie County's health commissioner who helped start up the facility, the first of its kind in Erie County.
Called Genesis by the Lake, the Vermilion-based community now includes about a dozen children and 18 women. The women are all recovering addicts.
“It’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, just being able to come out here and have my kid and be a mom again" said Kristyn Davis, a 28-year-old Findlay native who is a resident at Genesis.
All residents are required to work and pay rent. They also get drug-tested regularly and attend recovery meetings, with their children.
“I think if I came back home and got my own place and then got my son back, I don’t think it would have lasted because it is stressful," added Davis who was addicted to heroin. "If I didn’t have the help of the people here, I don’t know if I would be able to do it.”
The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services gave $261,000 to get the facility up and running. Private donors gave the rest. The facility was supposed to be a condo development that flopped.
Schade said he saw a need for such a community because addicts, primarily women, were returning from treatment centers without a place to continue their recovery long-term with family.
"It's a healthy part of the recovery process," he added. “One of the biggest things we were trying to do here is get our community back together.”
Davis said she plans to move out once she pays off her court fines and gets her driver's license back.
Schade said there are plans to expand the community to add more condos in the near future.