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Healing Place Helps Rehabilitate Homeless

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RALEIGH — State leaders have given Raleigh's homeless new hope by approving a location Tuesday for a center calledThe Healing Place,home to a program that rehabilitates victims of substance abuse.

The Council of State unanimously approved a long-term lease for a four-and-a-half acre site between theFarmers Marketand Dorothea Dix Hospital. The center will be built well away from residential areas, possibly by fall of next year.

The center is at least a partial solution to a problem city and community leaders have wrestled with for years, the problem of how to care for the homeless.

More than 1,500 men, women and children live on Raleigh's streets, in parks and alleys. There is currently no effective way of treating the most common cause of their problem: addiction.

"This is the quintessential community alternative," says Dr. David Bruton, secretary ofNorth Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. "They're doing a wonderful job for homeless substance abusers."

Fred Barber, a leader in the move to bring the program from Kentucky to Raleigh, says the homeless are taken from the street into a very effective recovery program.

"After they finish that program, after a year, two-thirds of those people are still sober," Barber says. "And that's a phenomenal statistic."

More than $3 million of the $4.5 million needed for the detoxification and recovery center has been raised; construction should begin soon. Supporters see the location next to Dorothea Dix as a bonus.

"We think the Dix move is really appropriate because a third of homeless people are mentally ill," Barber says. "Without question we'll be referring people back and forth, who belong one place rather than the other."

Clients will live and work in the facility for three months to a year. Organizers say The Healing Place can treat homeless substance abusers for about $25 a day. They also say about 60 percent of those people who complete the program return to jobs, families and become productive members of the community.

So far, there has been no opposition from current community members. City Councilman Benson Kirkman represents the area and says people there have been supportive.

"Almost without exception, the folks in southwest Raleigh that I've already presented this to know exactly where it's going now," Kirkman says. "They've all endorsed it."

A rezoning hearing will be held in September.

Supporters say they hope the Raleigh facility will become a model for other facilities in North Carolina.

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Tom Lawrence, Reporter
Gil Hollingsworth, Photographer
Julie Moos, Web Editor

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