Developing a New Center for Clinical, Day and Educational Programs.
Lowell House, Inc (LHI) serves approximately 2,000 individuals in a basic variety of day, clinical and educational programs out of a single location at 555 Merrimack Street in Lowell,MA. These services include outpatient counseling, driver alcohol education including multiple and second offender aftercare, compulsive gambling counseling, prison re-entry services, supportive case management, HIV/AIDS support services and treatment/diversion program for adolescents. A robust Structured Outpatient Addictions Program or SOAP stands as a centerpiece in the recovery process, providing a more intense, highly supportive day and evening treatment program for individuals struggling with maintaining sobriety in early recovery. They remain in the program for six to seven hours per day over a critical two month period. Due to overall demand for this services, LHI added an evening SOAP session for working individuals in 2014. LHI is also the lead agency for the Greater Lowell AIDS Consortium adding HIV/AIDs/Hepatitis B prevention and programming including case management, outreach and education, nutritional support, crisis intervention and street outreach.
The current property housing these important programs, as mentioned earlier, is a single story 8,400 square foot building. It is the product of several prior businesses, divided up to accommodate a bank and jewelry store in the same location. Rooms (and especially the waiting room) are oddly sized, lack natural light, the configuration is rambling and “maze-like”, and the usable space is less than 7,000 square feet. This results in poor client flow, difficult communication and, most of all, little opportunity to expand current services in a meaningful and integrated manner. We need to serve more people, and do so with maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
Creating a new 10,000 square foot facility on the current property meets two major goals of the Lowell House Real Estate Committee. First, it maintains an excellent location in the City of Lowell, easily accessible by public transportation and only blocks away from City Hall, Fire and Police Stations. Although it’s in the Acre section of Lowell, it’s walking distance to downtown and improves the look and feel of this important section of the City. It is also in a section of the City that creates significant visibility for Lowell House and subsequently, for the treatment of addictions in Greater Lowell.
Most important, the new facility provides additional space configured to meet the demanding needs of current and future LHI programs. Existing programs will be reconfigured in ways that maximizes to use of shared and discrete space while increasing interaction and communication between programs. This would include:
· Expanded treatment for individual and group services;
· A drop-in center for information and support;
· A client, staff and community information and resource center with a computer lab for training and research;
· Areas to develop community space for programs and services that support recovery including AA/NA, small nonprofits needing a home, meetings of community groups focusing on addiction issues, and space to work with partners like the Merrimack Repertory Theater in developing art that supports recovery.
The ability to support sober housing financially has always been a major issue. Since they are totally funded out of rents and donations, there is little funding left to support individuals in crisis. Having the sober apartments as part of the overall Recovery Center provides immediate support simply by the proximity and availability of services on the first floor. For many of the individuals living in the new sober apartment complex, this is a great boon to maintaining long-term sobriety.