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Recovery Housing Summit Identifies Need in the Region


Regional stakeholders, local elected officials, service and housing providers gathered for the first Northeast Tennessee Recovery Housing Summit yesterday at the Bank of Tennessee Operations Center in Kingsport.


Presenters include Dr. Angela Hagaman of the ETSU Addiction Science Center, Grant Myer of the Fletcher Group, Pat Breeding of GRC, and Crystal Fink of Washington County Schools. Each discussed the gaps and opportunities that exist in the region, and what their organizations are doing to address the housing shortage for individuals in recovery.


“We’re talking about recovery ecosystems in Northeast Tennessee, which is a great thing,” said Dr. Hagaman, “when we talk about supports for folks in recovery, every time we talk about gaps, housing is identified.” During her presentation which framed out the scale of substance use disorder in the region, Dr. Hagaman noted a bright spot, neonatal abstinence syndrome or NAS births in the area have declined steeply.


Grant Myer of the Fletcher Group outlined example projects in Kentucky that braid funding to provide recovery housing in rural areas. The Fletcher Group, which provides technical assistance for housing programs and projects, was founded by the former governor of Kentucky, Ernie Fletcher. As a local employer, Pat Breeding of GRC encouraged understanding and compassion with employees in recovery. “As an employer, we have had to retrain ourselves, and it is small steps to meet employees where they are in recovery,” said Breeding, “we’ve met with successes, and we’ve had setbacks, but everyone deserves another chance.”


Throughout the summit, attendees heard from those with lived experience and who have relied on recovery housing to rebuild their lives. Chelsea Payne shared that “recovery housing through Oxford House gave me the stability to turn my life around, get my children back, give others in recovery hope, and buy my first home.” Attendees also shared ideas on funding opportunities, partners that need to be brought into the conversation, and better ways to work together in providing this much needed service to the region.


Next steps include a second summit to dive deeper on types of housing that could be serve the region, and the certifications required. Further conversations will also focus on funding opportunities available, and how to align regional goals with those opportunities, specifically philanthropic and grant funding. Lottie Ryans, Director of Workforce & Literacy Initiatives with the FTDD added that “Our goals with the summit were to create aware