Our House Addiction Recovery Centre, a year-long, live-in service targeted at men, is facing a hefty renovation bill after discovering black mould in the kitchen area as well as multiple issues with its heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, executive director Laurie de Grace said last week.
The repair bill has yet to be finalized but de Grace estimates the work could cost as much as $400,000.
That’s a tough ask for an operation already working with a tight budget, she said. The facility’s 2016 financials showed a $2,295 deficit on a $1.2 million budget.
The facility, located off a service road between Edmonton and Stony Plain in the former Alamo Motel, was purchased in late 2007.
The Our House program originally started in Edmonton’s inner city in 1984 when parishioners at St. Stephen the Martyr Anglican Church rented an old house as a drop-in service.
Four years later, government funding allowed the church to purchase a 32-bed facility on 121 Avenue and then in 1999 they opened the 10-bed John Hilton three-quarter house, located nearby on 81 Street.
When the doors of Our House opened in March 2008 on the outskirts of the city, the group sold its 121 Avenue building.
Our House offers abstinence-based addiction treatment for 60 men — there is currently a three-month waiting list.
As a not-for-profit, a majority of Our House’s $1 million annual revenue comes through room and board fees. It costs $1,800 per month to stay at Our House, and clients are funded through Alberta Health Services and via subsidies from programs like Alberta Works and Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH). Our House also gets some revenue through donations.
“We knew our old dilapidated kitchen was due for repair and we were limping along with it,” de Grace said.
“Until we pull out the cabinetry and the vents over the stoves, we won’t know the extent of how the black mould has gone into the ceiling. It’s potentially gone into the dining room.”
A health inspector report also recommended that vinyl bench seating in the dining area be replaced.
“They are some pretty big numbers we are up against, especially when we are running at a bit of a deficit right now,” she said.
Asked to describe the current financial situation of Our House, de Grace settled on just one word, “precarious.”
“We are managing, and we have some money in reserve and at this point it looks like we will have to dip into that,” she said.
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