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SWFAS to open new halfway house

By Staff | Jun 2, 2009

A new women’s halfway house will open in Fort Myers later this month.
Southwest Florida Addiction Services officially opens the brand new house June 17 where members of the community and elected officials will witness the ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. at 2527 Dixie Parkway, followed by tours of the facility.
According to Rosemary Boisvert, director of the Transitional Living Center, women who leave treatment for drug or alcohol problems will reside at the house for an additional four to six months.
“When they first come into treatment we focus on substance abuse issues,” she said. “We educate them and give them the tools they need to focus on sobriety.”
Many local women take the time to further deal with their problems and get their lives back on track.
“The housing is for the ones that want a little more time to build strength in their sobriety,” said Boisvert. “Now we have a chance for case managers and counselors to work with them and focus on some of the issues that they’ve been involved in.”
Kevin Lewis, chief executive officer of SWFAS, said the organization has been struggling with a lack of capacity in Lee County.
“One of the things we struggle with in the community is adequate capacity for treatment services for women,” he said.
Lewis said that besides continuing their intense substance abuse treatments, the women will enter some educational program or develop job skills that help them to succeed outside of the house. In many cases, women who visit SWFAS are also homeless.
“We will work with them towards moving into some type of housing,” he said. “This is intended to be treatment and support. This is more of a intermediate level.”
Residents have the option of receiving permanent supportive housing in duplexes for an additional 34 individuals and up to two families, or case managers will assist them in finding their own housing.
Planning for the updated house started three years ago, according to Boisvert. The State Housing Initiatives Partnership provided SWFAS with $350,000 for the project and $191,000 from Homeless Housing Assistance.
Other private donors also contributed money for the house. The Zonta Foundation of Southwest Florida contributed $11,300, The League Club $4,900 and the Bat Yam Temple contributed $700.
Boisvert said the older halfway house was built in the late 1940s and typically had a waiting list. The age of the facility posed a problem for the health of its inhabitants and energy consumption.
She said traces of mold, lead and asbestos caused some allergy and respiratory problems.
“It was a very sick building and there were constantly allergies and colds, things we could never clear out of there,” Boisvert said.
Officials from SWFAS insisted that the new house have green standards. As a result, it was built with highly-energy efficient structural insulated panels and Energy Star approved air conditioning units.
For more information on Southwest Florida Addiction Services, visit: www.swfas.org.