Guiding Light adds fifth recovery house


Guiding Light is investing $371,000 in the apartment building, which can house seven men. Photo by Justin Dawes

Guiding Light is planning to open its fifth house for men recovering from drug addiction.

With the fifth sober-living Iron House, at 557 Andover St. SE, Guiding Light now is able to house 35 men who have successfully completed the nonprofit’s recovery program.

Guiding Light is investing $371,000 in building costs and renovations for the apartment building, which can house seven men, according to Starla McDermott, Guiding Light development director.

All homes allow men recovering from alcohol and drug addiction to live more independently as they transition back into mainstream society while continuing to receive support to maintain their sobriety.

Stuart Ray, Guiding Light executive director, said the Iron Houses have “overwhelmingly proven to be a crucial component in successful long-term recovery.”

“Challenging as it is, the Iron House model gives our men the extra push they need to step back into society while still providing them with a supportive community,” he said.

After completing the four-month Foundations program through Guiding Light Recovery, the men can stay at Guiding Light until they find employment, after which they can apply for a spot at Iron House.

Over the course of three and a half years, Guiding Light has treated nearly 90 men, 75 percent of whom remained sober after living in Iron House for one year.

Guiding Light reports that men who do not move to Iron House after the recovery program have a lower rate of continued sobriety and a higher rate of relapse, with just 46 percent reporting as currently sober.

In addition to abstinence-based sobriety, Iron House men focus on honing important life skills to better transition. Iron House residents all have jobs. They buy and prepare their own food, pay their own bills and engage with each other in the communal living situation.

There are two men in each two-bedroom apartment, and each resident pays subsidized rent of about $450 per month, McDermott said.

“I think one of the key things is the sense of community in a sober environment long-term has a lot more of a lasting impact,” she said.

McDermott said many of the clients in the program have lost everything to addiction and are looking for a way up.

“The whole purpose is to go through the program and be able to get a job and be re-engaged in the community,” she said.

The average length of stay at an Iron House is about 11-12 months, McDermott said.

When Guiding Light clients move into an Iron House, the nonprofit estimates that every $1 donated to Guiding Light programming amounts to $5.23 saved in Kent County social services over the course of five years.

Profits generated by the Iron House program are returned to Guiding Light’s Back to Work and Recovery programs, the nonprofit said.

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