Recovery for Women

People who are committed to their recovery from substance use disorder face a multitude of challenges. They’re working hard to develop new coping strategies to process their own trauma and shame without depending on substances to help. They’re letting go of unhealthy relationships while building new, healthy relationships, and repairing ones that were damaged as a result of their substance use. They’re adjusting to a life of structure that can, at times, feel dull and boring. They’re withstanding the harsh criticism societal stigma delivers. And, they are facing the possibility of relapse.

As if that’s not enough, some of those in recovery are unhoused women, many with children. This population, in particular, faces perhaps the most challenging situation, not in the least because they are woefully underserved when it comes to appropriate housing during the early stages of recovery. There is currently only one women-only recovery residence in Vermont, which is clearly not enough. Driven by our fervent belief that everyone deserves a home, we are taking action to help these courageous women.

Here’s how we’re going to do it. Downstreet has plans to purchase and renovate a 120 year-old building that is just across the street from our headquarter offices on Keith Avenue in Barre. The renovations will result in one shared apartment with common space, two additional rental units, and ten bedrooms that all will serve as transitional housing for unhoused women and women with children who are doing their best to overcome substance use disorder. The Vermont Foundation of Recovery (VFOR) is slated to run the facility once it is complete.

Downstreet’s Executive Director Eileen Peltier explains, “This project will allow VFOR to duplicate our evidence-informed practices and proven success model to help this specific population of primarily women and children as they transition from the trauma of addiction to a life of sobriety and serenity.”
Last week, we secured one piece of funding from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB), and this week, we will apply for $500,000 from the State’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). Once funding is in place, we hope to begin construction in the spring, with completion of the project by the end of the year.

“These programs work,” she said. “They keep people safe. They keep them housed. They give them the opportunity to reintegrate back into our communities in a healthy positive way.”

The residents in the new facility will be well supported, given project partners that include the Agency of Human Services, the state Department of Children and Families, and Circle, in addition to VFOR and Downstreet. We believe that with these opportunities in place, we can make a real difference in the lives of the women and children who will come through this recovery residence, keeping in mind the words of C.S. Lewis: “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”

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