Whitesburg KY
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Large grant to help MCHC build needed housing

The old Whitesburg High School English Building as it appears today.

The old Whitesburg High School English Building as it appears today.

Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation will use a $1.5 million grant to convert the old Whitesburg High School English Building to efficiency apartments for men recovering from drug addiction.

Men who have completed initial rehab will stay in the transitional apartments for up to a year while they learn new skills and prepare for life without drugs.

“During their stay of six to 12 months, we will provide additional counseling, job training, educational opportunities and health care needs through our community partners, available programs, and MCHC resources,” MCHC Chief Executive Officer L.M. “Mike” Caudill said in a prepared statement.

“The goal of this program is to better prepare attendees to transition back into society and the workforce as a contributing member, better able to withstand the forces and peer group pressure that causes many recovering addicts to struggle in their efforts to continue their sobriety,” Caudill said.

The Appalachian Regional Commission announced the grant Wednesday as part of a $43.3 million POWER Initiative grant program to communities impacted by the decline in the coal industry.

The East Kentucky Heritage Foundation Inc. in Whitesburg also received a $6,320 grant for a tiny house manufacturing feasibility study as part of the program.

The MCHC project includes the creation of transitional housing for men who are in recovery from substance use disorders. The efficiency apartments will be built in the old English Building on the Whitesburg High School campus, which MCHC purchased a few years ago.

The project will not be the first transitional housing in the county — Kentucky River Community Care operates several group homes throughout the county, some of which serve much the same purpose — but the MCHC project will be the largest by far with 22 units in the same building.

According to a news release from ARC, MCHC staff will work with community partners to coordinate healthcare, education, and other social supports for residents of the transitional living facility. Residents will also receive job-skills training through collaboration with local program partners, including Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College and the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP). The facility will be able to serve 44 residents each year and approximately 28 are expected to reach at least two key milestones such as maintaining sobriety, finding a job, or furthering education during that oneyear residency. Seven jobs will be created.

In a related project, the East Kentucky Heritage Foundation Inc. will study the feasibility of providing vocational training to persons in addiction recovery care and hiring them to build tiny houses. The study will be conducted in collaboration with HOMES, Inc., Federation of Appalachian House Enterprises (Fahe), and Addiction Recovery. According to the ARC news release, “By using the construction and distribution of tiny houses to support the drug and substance abuse post-treatment to employment continuum, tiny house manufacturing could serve as a model for second chance employment in the region.”

East Kentucky Heritage Foundation Inc. last year received a $3.5 million grant to begin work on Thunder Mountain, an outdoor sports resort to be located at Sandlick. The current grant is unrelated to that project.

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