HELPING HAND- James White

Abundant Safe Living House brings new ideas to Red Deer

Safe, accessible and affordable housing for recovered addicts

There is a new type of program taking off with a great impact in Red Deer that is aimed at making a difference in the lives of people recovered from addictions.

Abundant Safe Living House (ASLH) is a program that provides safe, accessible and affordable housing to people who have recovered through some type of program from an addiction of some sort.

“Currently there is nothing like this that exists anywhere. There is a huge demand for this type of programming,” said director James White.

ASLH started with a grand opening in December of one house for five women and continues to grow, having just opened house number two and aiming for house number three for the beginning of March.

The first two houses were geared towards women but the third will be men’s only. The need for this type of housing is high in Red Deer but White said it hasn’t been the focus before.

“Red Deer has a lot of harm reduction or housing first type scenarios, but we don’t go by that method. We go by once they’ve completed some sort of treatment they need a grounded space to be,” said White.

Housing first isn’t the issue according to White. Rather, recovery should be first and then housing.

On the web site for ASLH is a quote that simply states, “Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.”

White would like to see people in the Red Deer community as well as other areas of the province and country become involved in making programs like Abundant Safe Living House possible.

The philosophy of ASLH is to provide opportunity to people recovering from additions to rebuild their lives to be able to maintain long-term sobriety from whatever addiction they may have been dealing with.

Part of the goal of ASLH is to reintegrate these men and women back into society. They pay rent in their new living spaces and function as a household with chores, responsibilities and structure.

“We encourage that they get a job and slowly get back into society and volunteer and do that sort of thing,” said White.

Along with the standard requirements of the home, ASLH asks of its tenants that they have an open mind and that they be willing to take actions on the advisors’ suggestions. These suggestions could come from a number of different resources that White said are always accessible to those involved in the program.

White explained that the approach of Abundant Safe Living House is very hands-on and that they have a trauma therapist who helps the women. White is an addictions counsellor as well.

Along with providing counselling, White said some basics are also provided through his wife including resume building, some cooking help as well as help with any day-to-day challenges the men and women may face.

White said some discussions have been held with Women’s Outreach, and they are always on the lookout for people to be aware of the program and reach out to help.

“The biggest thing for us is wanting people to be aware of it. We are always looking for professionals who can offer services like even a yoga instructor so we can build some programming around it.”

One of the biggest challenges for White and ASLH is furnishing the new homes.

“We need beds for the tenants and those can cost thousands of dollars along with couches and furnishings.”

The program houses multiple people in one home for a number of reasons.

“When these people come out of treatment they’re used to living with 40 or 50 other people. To put them in their own house might not work; they might start repeating old patterns.”

White said by housing a number of people together it provides a unity and a “we can do this” type of attitude instead of reverting to old habits and being alone again.

“What got the ball rolling for me was that I myself am a recovered alcoholic and I went through the same stages and knew what was needed. I knew where the gaps were and I wanted to aim to close them.”

For more information on Abundant Safe Living House visit www.abundantsafeliving.com or contact James White at 403-596-4010.

kpalardy@reddeerexpress.com