A 50-bed sober living facility is expected to open in spring 2020 in a building that was a vacant church at Wabash Avenue and North Street in Kokomo.
The facility, which will be called Hope for the Hurting, is being developed by a pair of private real estate developers, Greg Cohen, who is originally from Terra Haute, and Nick Salvato, who is based in Los Angeles.
The developers have been discussing the plans with Turning Point, which opened in May 2018 as a collaborative effort between the medical, mental health and faith-based communities that connects people struggling with addiction to those who can help them. The new sober living facility will become a referral partner with Turning Point.
Paul Wyman, Turning Point board president and Howard County commissioner, said he is very excited about Kokomo and Howard County getting a sober living facility.
“One of the biggest gaps we have for people who come out of jail or come back from treatment is finding housing for them,” he said. “Having a sober living environment for people who are suffering from addiction is critical. So, it’s our hope that this type of home is a great place for people to reside, continue to receive treatment for their addiction and begin their life of recovery.
“It affords them the opportunity to have a roof over their head, have some meals and then an opportunity to seek employment, become gainfully employed and obviously become productive members of society again.”
Salvato said they plan on doing $250,000 to $400,000 remodeling work; exact plans are being drawn up but have not been released.
He said that he and his partner opened a similar facility in Los Angeles for 83 men in recovery. When they purchased that building it was part of their for-profit real estate business and they planned on flipping and selling it for profit. However, once they saw the impact the facility was having, they turned it over to their charity and it ultimately became a nonprofit organization. They plan on doing the same with Hope for Hurting.
The LA facility was “one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done; it became personal when you interact with it all the time,” said Salvato.
Before it was opened as a sober living facility, the LA location it was a hangout for gang members with the 18th Street Crips.
“We cleaned it up and turned it into something positive,” said Salvato. “There was trash, needles and even toys for gang members’ children.”
Salvato said he and his partner got involved with Kokomo when they purchased mortgages in bulk during the Great Recession. They came here and talked to local contractors and Salvato said he met a local contractor who had been wrestling with drug addiction.
“He told me what he was going through and I thought I could really help this guy,” said Salvato. “I visited him in drug rehabilitation and he told me they didn’t have a sober living facility and there was a need for it in Kokomo.”
That was 18 months ago. During that time he met Wyman and saw the impact of Turning Point.
“Once Nick and I started have discussions about [drug] problems and I told him we’ve been dreaming of this kind of facility,” said Wyman. “So we went searching for the right property and we had to go through rezoning from institutional, to institutional with special exception to allow for a sober living facility. They purchased it and closed on the property about a month ago.”
“I do have a model that we’ve seen what works,” said Salvato. “The challenge is not every community is the same. LA is not the same as Kokomo, but drug addiction is still the same.”
Wyman added, “On behalf of Turning Point we’re thrilled that this opportunity will be available for the people who are in recovery in our community.”