The Journal Gazette
Thursday, September 20, 2018 7:10 pm

County Council spends $500,000 to fight drug addiction

DAVE GONG | The Journal Gazette

The Allen County Council has given $500,000 to the Lutheran Foundation to combat drug addiction in Allen County, officials announced Thursday. 

Senate Enrolled Act 510, approved by the Indiana General Assembly last year, provides $1.5 million in state matching funds for a substance abuse pilot program, Lutheran Foundation CEO Marcia Haaff said. The pilot program is specific to Allen County and expands recovery residences for drug addicts in the criminal justice system who are 18 years of age or older. 

"We are working and today thanks to your contribution of $500,000 we've reached nearly our goal," Haaf said. "But there's not ever enough money, so we're going to continue to fund raise to get more recovery residences."

The Lutheran Foundation has partnered with local substance abuse treatment facilities Park Center, Shepherd's House and Redemption House to expand the housing, Haaf said. Plans for the funding include bed space for 79 new patients.

"Although that may not sound like a lot, that's huge for our community," Haaf said. "We have waiting lists for people who are in the jail who could be in a recovery residence."

Four or five years ago, officials wouldn't have fathomed the addiction crisis reaching its current point, County Commissioner Nelson Peters said. 

"One of the ways that we can begin to conquer some of these issues in this community is through this great collaboration ...," Peters said. "It's this type of collaboration that allows us to leverage the kind of dollars that we're going to see coming back to this community to fight this very issue we're talking about today."

The Lutheran Foundation has hired an expert from Indiana University who will look at the program over four years, Haaf said. 

"We want to look at the cost savings, we want to look at the recidivism rates," Haaf said. "This is a pilot, so we're structuring this in such a way that it can be duplicated in other counties."

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