A residential facility that uses a faith-based approach to help people recover from drug addiction was approved Thursday night to move into a former missionary church property at West Rudisill Boulevard and South Wayne Street.
Andy Collins, executive director of Adult & Teen Challenge of Northern Indiana, told the Fort Wayne Zoning Appeals Board that the group is requesting a special use to locate a Fort Wayne-based “welcome center” in the building, which is located in a family residential area.
He said the organization was based at 1111 Bristol St., Elkhart, but was part of a 63-year-old national organization with more than 250 centers in the United States and 1,500 around the world.
Despite its name, he said, the local program would be aimed at adults 18 and older. They stayed at the local facility for 30 to 45 days, then transferred to the Elkhart “training center” for 11 to 14 months.
Collins said participants pay their own way and the program does not seek government funding. Participants are there on their own and are not ordered by the court; a typical cost is $ 500 per month.
Participants do not leave the site to work; they are under the supervision of resident staff at all times and are locked in a building on high alert, Collins said.
“The prison is much easier than our program,” he said, noting that some participants came from prison.
“Nine out of 10 people” who are trying to overcome their addiction “are probably not good candidates” for the program, he said. But those that are have a 78% success rate, Collins said.
He said the program is very much like a residential school, that it is “interfaith” and that it is not affiliated with the Missionary Church.
Neighbors in West Rudisill and Oakdale said they had researched the program and met with representatives and were convinced of their sincerity, said Jim Sack, who lives at 902 W. Rudisill Blvd.
“I think we all left thinking they were going to be an asset in the neighborhood,” he said.
The group was approved to accommodate up to 24 participants in the building, which housed the offices of the Missionary Church and eight apartments for those returning from mission. But it hasn’t been busy recently.
Collins told the Journal Gazette that he was both a graduate of the program and a former Fort Wayne resident.
His parents, both graduates of Fort Wayne Bible College, lived in the neighborhood while he was growing up, Collins said, and that’s how he knew the building.
He said his father, Dennis Collins, was an assistant pastor for a time at First Missionary Church across South Wayne Street.
Collins said he was aware the building had fallen into disuse. But he said the group was willing to spend between $ 1 million and $ 1.3 million to fix the issues, including a damp basement and possible asbestos and lead paint.
“We are going to fundraise,” he said.