DELBARTON – Wednesday morning, Belinda Harness, the Executive Director at the Housing Authority of Mingo County, shed light on Serenity Pointe, a purposed rehabilitation facility that has been a topic of controversy at recent Williamson City Council meetings.
Serenity Pointe is a purposed drug and alcohol rehabilitation center that will inhabit the Sycamore Inn and surrounding area in downtown Williamson.
Harness explained that more information was not made available to the public due to the application process involved with securing funding. The housing authority did not want to release information concerning Serenity Pointe until funding would allow the project to become a reality. “When we started this back in March or April, we were putting in an application. It was nothing that was set in stone. It was just an idea. We have a lot of ideas of things that we would like to see done. Really, until you get funded and you know that this is really going to happen, that is when it becomes a story. We are almost to that point with his facility but we still aren’t there. We still have some funding to get that we have not gotten. We hope to get it soon. We hope that this facility will come to life and that it will be a good project,” Harness said.
According to Harness, Serenity Pointe offers positive benefits to the community of Williamson. “We see it as a promotion to the city. It is going to bring in jobs. It is going to bring in people that have a problem. It isn’t like we are creating the problem, we aren’t creating a drug issue, it already exists and it is here. We are trying to find solutions to get those people off the streets and get them in a facility that can provide hope, direction and help them get back out in the workforce so they are contributing to our economy and our communities,” Harness said.
Harness stated that the housing authority did consider the proximity to the G and V club located across the street from the location. “We did take that into consideration. They are going to be in a facility where they will not have a lot of access to the outside until they are clean. This is a volunteer facility. It isn’t at a hospital; it isn’t something that you are required to be at. They come there because they want to be there and want to get help. The only bar that is close to it is a members only type club. It isn’t really accessible to the people outside that club. It was a concern at first but because of that, we do not feel that it would be a threat to that facility,” Harness explained.
Overall, Harness feels that the Sycamore Inn is a good location for the proposed facility. “It is in a good location. It is kind of to itself and because of the buildings around it that we will be able to utilize for job training and education of these people as they come through. It was just a good fit,” Harness stated.
When finished, Serenity Pointe is expected to have 140 beds. Harness explained the decision to create a large facility. “It is what fits that facility. When you think of a 130 or 140 beds, because of how they are staged, it isn’t a 140 beds of all the same type. Our plan is for it to be a 12 step facility. Each phase has a certain amount of beds. We maximized how many we could help. It is just what fit,” Harness said.
Harness also provided information concerning how the facility will operate. “There will be a 72 hours detox location where they come clean. Then at that point, they decide if they want help. It is a volunteer program. If they want help and want to stay in the facility, the detox center has 80 beds; 40 for men and 40 for women. They are supervised during that time. They will be attending classes, and have chores. It isn’t like we are putting them in a building and shutting the door. After they get through the detox center, that is when they would enter Serenity Pointe, the hotel.” Harness said.
“It is a peer to peer based program but there will be counselors on staff that will be assisting with that. In all reality, in our opinion, if we want to truly help people get free from drugs and alcohol, then we have to have people that have been there and done that to help people get through. That is why we want a peer to peer model. Those people are going to be the ones that are going to help them,” Harness continued.
Harness explained that the facility will not offer a quick fix but is a major step in the right direction for many in the area that face drug and alcohol addictions. “The 20 day clinical facilities all over our state are not what will help people be free and clean. It is not a quick fix. This is not a 20 day program that they are going to get out and be right back on the streets doing the same thing. I really believe that this is not an overnight fix but this is a step in the right directions,” Harness said.
Harness stated that the housing authority chose to model their facility after the peer based Recovery Point due to the facilities’ success rate. “Recovery Point will not be running this facility. We chose their model because we liked how it worked and the success rate is 85 percent. If we can take 100 people and get 85 of those people clean and able to reenter the workforce and help the economy in the communities that they live in then I think we will have done what we intended to do. That is the goal. That model is successful. It has been tested and been in the works for 16 years or more,” Harness said.
Harness expects work to begin at the Sycamore Inn location in January. “We are hoping that we will start rehabilitation of the facility sometime in January. It has to have a lot of work to get it to where it needs to be to get it to open. I don’t imagine the facility being ready to open before maybe June. It depends on how long the work takes us to do and how much money we get. We may have to build it in stages. At this point, we hope to begin in January but I can’t tell you when it will be finished, or when it will be done, or if it will be done all at once. We don’t know what because we don’t have enough funding yet,” Harness said.
Harness encourages those with any questions and concerns to contact the Housing Authority of Mingo County. The housing authority can be contacted at 304-475-4663.
(Courtney Harrison is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242 ext. 2279.)