A Dubuque nonprofit director hopes her organization’s proposed recovery center will help reduce the number of local substance-abuse related deaths.

“We want to change the landscape of things here in Dubuque,” said Michelle Mihalakis, executive director of Manasseh House/Operation Empower. “We want to make recovery a reality.”

Last week, the Iowa Finance Authority Board of Directors announced that the nonprofit had been awarded $2.7 million to help build Liberty Recovery Community. The money will cover most of the approximately $3.2 million Mihalakis said is needed to complete the project.

Still, much remains to be done before a planned opening date in early 2020, she said.

“This is going to be a piece of the pie that is going to fill a gap in our community in a very positive way, but we have a lot of work to do yet,” Mihalakis said.

Mihalakis plans to renovate a former bank building at 2201 Jackson St. and construct an adjacent apartment building at 2220 White St.

Liberty Place Apartments will consist of 24 one-bedroom units that will offer permanent, supportive housing to men and women dealing with substance-use disorders and issues.

The apartments will be considered affordable housing and likely will lease for $416 per month, which covers rent and utilities, and includes access to programming.

The former bank building will be a recovery and training center, where residents will have access to services such as support groups, writing and art therapy and drug and alcohol education.

Programming also will include a leadership academy aimed at helping tenants reach out to their peers and find jobs in the addiction recovery field.

“We will have just about everything I can think of that will promote long-term survival,” Mihalakis said.

The community will be recovery-focused, Mihalakis said, noting that it will not be an in-patient treatment facility. It will, however, include elements that would be found in a treatment facility.

She characterized the project as a hybrid treatment and recovery center.

Mihalakis is seeking to have the center partner with area organizations and agencies like hospitals and treatment centers.

“We’re going to partner with as many places as we can,” she said.

Iowa Rep. Shannon Lundgren, R-Peosta, said she was thrilled to hear the center had been chosen to receive state funding. Lundgren was the House floor manager for a bill signed into law this year aimed at reducing opioid prescriptions in Iowa.

“It’s definitely going to be something that is needed, and it is going to be an amazing benefit to the Dubuque area and Iowans in general,” she said.

Pattie Beck, co-founder of The S.O.U.R.C.E., said there is a need locally for sober-living options, particularly ones that serve women. The S.O.U.R.C.E. is a service center that provides support for people dealing with addictions.

Beck said she hopes the new center will be able to help meet those needs.

“I’m really, really hoping that it’s run as a clean and sober-living facility, because it’s desperately needed in Dubuque,” she said.

Much still remains to be done before the center can become a reality, Mihalakis said. She still is seeking local funding to cover the rest of the costs needed to open the center and will need to complete an administrative plan and secure contractors.

She said she has made an offer to purchase the property for the center.

Mihalakis is still determining exactly how many people the center will be able to serve at one time.

“We’re excited about our project,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited about something that is in front of us.”

Copyright, Telegraph Herald. This story cannot be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without prior authorization from the TH.