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Funds raised, closing rescheduled for purchase of 63 Washington St.

Occupancy planned for summer 2019
By Susan Mustapich | Jan 03, 2019
Photo by: Susan Mustapich The Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition plans to purchase 63 Washington St. in Camden from its nonprofit owner Jan. 18.

CAMDEN — The Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition has raised more than $160,000 over the past 30 days to purchase 63 Washington St., where it plans to open a home for women recovering from drug addiction and their children, and by agreement with the property's nonprofit owner, has rescheduled the closing date to Jan. 18.

MCRC Executive Director Dr. Ira Mandel said more than 400 people contributed donations towards the purchase. He said MCRC is very excited about moving forward. The organization is grateful for the show of community and financial support for the facility, which will provide transitional housing and services for up to six women. He said support and recognition of the need for an addiction recovery home is important to its success in the community.

The timeframe to raise the funds for the closing was extremely tight. The nonprofit owner, also named Sixty-Three Washington Street, accepted a backup offer to buy the property from a private individual in early December. The acceptance of the second offer activated an acceleration clause, requiring MCRC to close on the property in 30 days. Originally the closing date was March 30.

In recent years, the Sixty-Three Washington Street Board of Directors has operated the home as a licensed Level 3 Assisted Living home for seniors over 60. The organization was established in 1886 as a charitable organization and home for indigent American women. In the 1980s, the First Congregational Church purchased the home for both men and women. In January 2018, the facility closed its doors after 120 years of serving the community, because it could not compete with larger facilities for seniors.

Occupancy plans, rules

Despite the rush to raise donations to buy the property, MCRC is not changing its plan to move residents in this summer, according to Mandel.

The location at 63 Washington St. is ideal for a recovery home for women and their children, Mandel said. The neighborhood is safe and pleasant, within walking distance of the downtown, has a large yard and garden, and the support of the community. He characterized the home as a place for people to work on goals they have in common.

The top selection criterion is that a person is highly motivated to enter recovery, and improve and get their life on track, according to information Mandel has prepared for the community.

Supportive housing and wraparound services at the women's recovery house will be provided, including safe housing, supervision, case management, parenting and life skills training, and access to child care, transportation, medical and behavioral health care and employment assistance, Mandel said. These services can help those working on relationships, seeking a driver's license and paying off fines, he said.

Residents will be expected to abide by rules. A draft list of 30 such rules includes as the top three, agreement to not tolerate any drugs, alcohol or illegal mood-altering substances and/or paraphernalia in the house, to freely agree to take random drug/alcohol tests when requested by the house manager, and if transitioning from a treatment facility, full agreement to follow all of that facility's aftercare recommendations.

The house will have a full-time manager, "with experience in residence settings helping women in recovery," and will train two to three staff to provide rotating 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week coverage.

Residents will contribute towards the cost of reasonable fees, based on their ability to pay. The typical length of stay would be about six months, Mandel said.

Community meetings, fundraising continue

During the six-month planning phase prior to occupancy, MCRC will maintain the property, continue fundraising, and hold additional  community meetings, he said.

Fundraising will include applications for federal, state and other grants to pay for operating expenses, and continuing to seek private donations. In the short term, Mandel expects MCRC will have to pay at least one month's property tax, while applying to receive a property tax exemption as a nonprofit facility. Sixty-Three Washington Street currently is exempt from paying property taxes, but it does not extend to a new owner.

At an upcoming meeting tentatively planned for Jan. 23, MCRC plans to address concerns and questions raised by community members at a Dec. 20 meeting, and a prior meeting with neighbors.

Mandel hopes to have additional discussions with neighbors to the property. He said many who live in the area around 63 Washington St. support the recovery house, but that 10 or so people are opposed.

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Comments (2)
Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Jan 03, 2019 13:56

Congratulations to the 400 donors who made this possible and for those with the vision. Another reason proud to live in mid-coast Maine.

Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Jan 03, 2019 12:22

This seems to be a wonderful opportunity for the abused women in the area. Good luck and Godspeed!

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