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Buffett donates $2.8 million for 'sober housing' apartments on Community Care Campus
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Buffett donates $2.8 million for 'sober housing' apartments on Community Care Campus

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DECATUR — A $2.8 million addition to the Community Care Campus north of downtown Decatur will provide a crucial step in helping people recovering from addiction, advocates say.

Officials from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and Crossing Healthcare on Tuesday announced that Buffett would fund two 10-unit apartment buildings on the site, where he previously pledged $55 million. The campus is meant to combine social service agencies and foster a comprehensive approach to addiction treatment.

The new apartment buildings would allow people who would have undergone treatment at other facilities on the campus to continue recovery in a stable, supportive environment, said Tanya Andricks, CEO of Crossing Healthcare. They could stay for a year or longer, depending on their needs.

"The gradual decrease in the involvement of a care team and the increase in independence is really our goal,” Andricks said.

Buffett, a former Macon County sheriff who has donated millions to Central Illinois causes, first announced in August plans to provide $30 million for construction of the Community Care Campus. In April, the foundation announced another $25 million, this time to build an 80,000-square-foot community center to house longstanding Decatur social service agencies Baby TALK and Decatur Macon County Opportunities Corp.

The Community Care Campus will sit on a 27-acre parcel between Central Avenue and Marietta streets. The site is currently home to Crossing Healthcare, a federally qualified health clinic, and the future site of Northeast Community Fund, a nonprofit group that helps people with food, financial and other assistance.

Five new facilities will be owned and operated by Crossing:

  • 31,000-square-foot detox and residential rehabilitation building with 8 detox beds and 48 rehabilitation beds expected to be completed this fall;
  • 18,000-square-foot outpatient treatment center expected to be finished in spring 2020;
  • 17,000-square-foot transitional housing facility with 64 beds, expected to be complete this summer;
  • two 10-unit apartment buildings expected to be completed in spring 2020.

Baby TALK and DMCOC will relocate and operate the 80,000-square-foot social services building by spring 2021. Baby TALK provides early childhood development services for children from birth to age 3. DMCOC provides services to children ages 3 to 5 through its Anna Waters Head Start program, along with senior services, help with utilities and emergency housing, job training and weatherization services.

Officials previously said the campus will provide treatment options for those suffering from all types of drug addictions, including opioids, regardless of their ability to pay. Macon County residents will be the priority for treatment, Andricks has said, but services will also be provided to those in the surrounding communities if space is available.

Andricks said the idea for the new apartment buildings came from conversations between Buffett and Crossing leaders about issues that might be faced by people who have just come out of transitional housing. They might be trying to regain custody of children, for example, or facing other barriers, she said.

“Having had the opportunity to work with hundreds of individuals dealing with substance abuse, I have learned how recovery is often dependent on living in a stable and drug-free environment over a longer period of time to avoid relapse,” Buffett said in a statement. “Returning to living environments where drugs are still readily available can set back even the most highly motivated individuals.”

Dr. Dana Ray, chief medical officer at Crossing, said one group being targeted for the affordable, stable housing is women with children and families. Also, people with pending criminal or legal issues may have trouble finding other places to live, and in some cases only qualify for housing in areas where there is significant drug use that acts as a trigger for them, she said.

"Crossing being able to invest in them by giving them an option for stable and safe housing is key so they don't go back to old habits," she said.

Ray said some people recovering from addiction are able to turn their lives around completely in a year, typically because they have gained stable employment. Patients have told her about the freedom and joy they feel when they can pay their bills and still save money.

"Being able to save money and still pay bills is huge for these people,” she said, “because they are so used to being one flat tire or emergency away from having nothing."

Contact Analisa Trofimuk at (217) 421-7985. Follow her on Twitter: @AnalisaTro

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