JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) — Drivers passing by see an old boarded up retirement home.
But Mike Hirst, a local drug recovery advocate, sees new life at the blighted site.
“Nobody else in the whole country is doing this,” Hirst said.
He recently announced plans to replace the former retirement home building with a drug recovery development.
The facility on Michigan Avenue will feature two new apartment buildings with 50 low-income units for recovering opioid addicts and their families.
People undergoing treatment will be identified through the local drug court and subject to drug tests.
Help will be on site for battling addictions, along with training for life skills.
“We want several of the local recovery groups to have a satellite office here. Anything that these people need here to get them ahead in life,” Hirst said.
It will be called Andy’s Place in honor of two men named Andy who both died from heroin overdoses, Hirst’s son and the son of the former property owner.
“It’s a real tribute to him to have his name on that building,” Hirst said.
With the opioid crisis continuing to ruin lives, Hirst says there’s a big need for long term recovery housing in Jackson.
“It takes a year, two years for the brain to heal. So that’s why I say, the short-term programs, there’s nothing wrong with them, it’s just they’re not long enough. And it’s impossible for someone to privately fund a long-term stay at a rehab center facility. So this is something in-between,” Hirst said.
Hirst, who’s helping organize the development, says it will be funded by the state and private investors.
It’s the first of four recovery living facilities the state is starting in Lansing, Dowagiac, and Kalamazoo.
After his son died, Hirst vowed they’d fight back against heroin.
He says this development shows the fight is ramping up.
“I came to fight, and I came to win,” Hirst said.
They plan to break ground this fall and have Andy’s Place open sometime next year.