New state program to combat drug abuse with housing

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JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) — Could putting a roof over the heads of recovering addicts help battle Michigan’s drug crisis?

It’s something we’ve followed closely, the impact of heroin in communities across Michigan.

Right now state officials are coming up with a new approach to combat the problem by giving addicts a stable place to live.

6 News has an exclusive look at the new program.

It’s an approach that could save lives and keep people out of prison.

“It’s really fitting the need that the treatment court professionals have identified as a missing link in their program right now,” said Kelly Rose, MSHDA’s Chief Housing Solutions Officer.

MSHDA, the state’s housing development authority, is working to create long-term recovery housing for people struggling with drug addiction and a lack of stable housing.

Rose says MSHDA will work with drug courts to place non-violent offenders in these facilities, helping them with more than just kicking the habit.

“Things like employment training, looking at their educational background and really trying to fill in those gaps of what can help this person be successful in life and really get reintegrated into the community,” Rose said.

The state wants to place these recovery facilities in three locations.

Right now they’re considering four places: Kalamazoo Lansing, Jackson, and somewhere in south-east Michigan.

Last year 51 people died from drug overdoses in Jackson County.

The vast majority of them were from heroin.

Given the growing problem, a local recovery advocate is pushing to bring one of these facilities to Jackson.

Mike Hirst started the drug recovery group Andy’s Angel after his son, Andy, died from a heroin overdose.

“The failure rate is unacceptable. We are better than that as a country,” Hirst said.

With multiple recovery resources, a central location, and a significant heroin problem, Hirst believes the state could benefit from having a facility in Jackson.

“We’ve got like 27 parks within the city limits; we have a bus transportation system. Many of these people can’t drive.  So we’re trying to get them to work, we got a labor shortage going on right here,” Hirst said.

MSHDA will decide on where to place these facilities sometime next year.

“We’re ready for something like this, and the people support something like this,” Hirst said.

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