By April, Last House of the Block for men was down to five residents.
But it wasn’t COVID-19 that left 17 of the sober-living facility’s 22 beds empty, at least directly, said director Billy Jordan.
“What ran them off wasn’t the COVID. It was their attitudes, ideas and emotions,” Jordan told Columbus Exchange Club members at the club’s weekly luncheon Thursday at Lion Hills Center. “They didn’t want to be quarantined, so they had to go.”
As those residents were leaving, the influx of new residents to take their places came to a halt for about six weeks.
With most of its residents coming to LHOB through referrals from drug/alcohol treatment centers or the courts, occupancy fell to five residents at its three-house campus on Alabama Street in East Columbus, as well as five residents at its female campus on Highway 182.
The women’s residence, a 10-bed house, is formerly Avante House.
“The treatment centers weren’t taking in new people during that period, so when someone left us, no one moved in to take their place for a while,” Jordan said.
Today, there are 12 men and six women living on the two campuses.
“We’ve been slowly building back up,” Jordan said. “Along with the 12 men we have today, I’ve interviewed three more and (Circuit Court) Judge (Jim) Kitchens is sending me another man. We’ll also be bringing in a man out of Greene County, who’s getting out of prison, who served 20 years for DUIs.”
LHOB takes in prison parolees, provided they have not committed violent crimes or sex offenses, Jordan said.
Jordan said LHOB has been blessed throughout the pandemic.
“We’ve only had one COVID case,” he said. “On Dec. 12, we had one of our men test positive and we were able to quarantine him in a house by himself. We let him out on Christmas Day, and you can imagine how happy he was about that.”
Aside from the one case, Jordan said operations have continued pretty much as normal throughout the pandemic.
“All of our residents are working, which is one of our requirements,” he said. “No one has lost their job. Like I said, we’ve been blessed.”
The same applies for the fundraising the organization relies on to keep its programs going.
“Our big fundraiser is a deer hunt and rifle giveaway,” Jordan said. “We were able to do that this year, too.”
Jordan said while fundraisers and donations have remained steady, LHOB is always in need of support.
“It costs us about $65,000 a year to do what we do,” he said. “We are blessed to get the money we need, but there’s not always a lot of black ink, so we have to cut back on some things sometimes as we go along. We’re blessed, but we still need all the support we can get.”
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is email@example.com.