by CHRIS ROGERS
Too often when people come home from a month at an in-patient addiction treatment center, they return to old habits, said Eric Spagenski. Or, suddenly jobless and homeless, they have no drug-free place to live, added Steve Coddington.
Coddington and Spagenski plan to give Winona area residents a better shot at recovery. The licensed counselor and clinical director will help run a new halfway house in Winona for men leaving addiction treatment.
“For the community there has been this gap,” Spagenski said. People go to jail or treatment and get out and cannot find sober housing, he explained. Even though there is sometimes government funding for housing, there were no sober options, Spagenski stated. With 24/7 staff, no tolerance for substance abuse, and programs and counseling to help them succeed in recovery, the new Common Ground Recovery House aims to change that, he explained. Coming out of treatment, people need time to get their lives back together, Coddington said. “You have a safe place to re-establish yourself,” he explained.
Common Ground is a for-profit organization based in Rochester. It has operated an out-patient substance abuse treatment programs in Winona since 2014 and ran a treatment program inside the Winona County Jail for around a year before new state-mandated restrictions on the jail itself cut that short, according to Common Ground CEO Mattea Schmitz. She explained the impetus for opening the halfway house:
“We’ve noticed that a lot of our clients aren’t as successful as they could be with a sober place to live.”
The new halfway house on West Broadway will house up to 16 men at a time.
Last year, when Common Ground first announced its plans, several neighbors expressed concerns. The organization held a community forum last summer and an open house last week to try to assuage those concerns. “This is going to be a safe place,” Coddington said. Ultimately, some neighbors said last year, the proof will be how the house is run when it opens.
Other Winonans, including people who have recovered from addiction spoke out in support of the new halfway house, saying these services are needed in Winona.
Common Ground planned to open the house last fall, but paperwork and licensing approvals delayed that date, Spagenski said.
More information is available at www.commongroundmn.org/winona/.