Recovery Housing Abundant In Boone County, Lacking Elsewhere

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BOONE COUNTY - The In2Action recovery housing provides sober housing to incarcerated men recently released from prison, or men at risk of incarceration due to substance abuse.

The goal of In2Action is to promote public safety, reduce victimization and help transition men suffering from substance abuse into law-abiding citizens said Executive Director Dan Hanneken.

In2Action has two transition homes for recovery, Nelwood House and Honor House. 

Nelwood House is for men new to society after life in prison, and more at risk of falling back into substance abuse and going back to prison. Residents living at the Nelwood house must attend daily morning prayer groups, in-home counseling, once weekly 12 step sessions, and have curfews ranging from 6 to 11 p.m.

Nelwood House also helps its residents seek employment, re-socialize and learn money management. For the first 30 days, a resident is not allowed to work, he must participate in a one hour in-house bible study and relapse prevention class and has a curfew of 6 p.m.  

Honor House gives its male residents more flexibility, independence and freedom with their time. The men still have a curfew of 11 p.m., but are allowed to work overnight shifts and live without much supervision.

Hanneken is a licensed clinical social worker and his reentry specialist, Dan Fite, is a substance abuse counselor.

"When I designed In2Action we started with transitional housing, people need a place to live when they get out. They need a safe environment, a supportive environment, an environment they can stay clean and sober," said Hanneken.

In2Action not only aims at helping its residents stay sober, but also get long-term employment. Within the first 30 days, In2Action provides its residents with a transitional employment therapy program.

Hanneken said, "We have a lawn service we operate in house. With that lawn service we are able to employ our own residents. They go on our payroll, they get paychecks and they can work up to three days a week."

The employment therapy program allows Hanneken and Fite to assess each resident's work skills, particularly his soft skills: reliability, dependability, ability to accept criticism and honesty.

"Fortunately, Columbia has a lot of resources. There are over a dozen recovery houses in Boone County, but none in Cole County right now," said Hanneken.

Executive director of the Missouri Recovery Network, Brenda Schell said, "There is much more of a demand and we don't have enough supply to help individuals when they are ready to make that commitment that they need help."  

Hanneken points out there are a lot of the same problems in Cole County as there are in Boone County.

"If Cole County were able to develop some more recovery housing the size of their recovery community would grow" Hanneken adds.

He said the greatest challenges to starting recovery housing are funding and resistance from the community, and many community members want to support an recovery housing, however, it's a "not in my backyard" position. 

Hanneken owes much of the success of In2Action to the actual house. When he initially bought the house it had already been a transition home. He also attributes the success to his re-entry specialist, both of their histories with addiction, connections within community, support from city council, Columbia Police and local churches.

In order to get residents transitioned back into the community, the most effective recovery housing is going to take place in a neighborhood, said Hanneken.