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North Country Freedom Homes will consolidate halfway house

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MADRID - North Country Freedom Homes will close its Madrid halfway house this fall, moving all residents to its newly expanded Canton location.

The state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services visited the Madrid location at 3702 County Route 14 recently to look into the possibility of installing air conditioning, but found the 100-year-old building would need numerous expensive upgrades to remain useful.

Outdated plumbing and an inadequate number of electrical outlets were both cited as problems.

“To upgrade it to today’s standards would cost too much for OASAS to do,” Mr. Aldrich said.

Instead, North Country Freedom Homes will build an extension to its halfway house at 25 Dies St., Canton.

This will add enough space for 12 more people to live in the Canton home, the same number of beds being lost by the upcoming closure of the Madrid home, keeping the total capacity at 24 people.

The work is scheduled for completion this fall.

The house will continue to serve only men.

A proposed partnership between North Country Freedom Homes and Potsdam’s New Hope Transformation House Ministries would have made a small apartment available for women, separate from the halfway house, but this plan has fallen through.

Mr. Aldrich said further consideration into the partnership revealed several problems, although at first it seemed like a positive first step to bring much-needed support for women recovering from drug addiction in St. Lawrence County.

North Country Freedom Homes does not have any female counselors or enough female employees to oversee the women who would have lived in the apartment. The organization has neither the time nor the resources to implement a program for women, Mr. Aldrich said.

“I feel bad about the disappointment that may have created,” he said.

Long ago, Freedom Homes used to operate a coed halfway house. However, this causes even more problems, Mr. Aldrich said.

“The biggest problem that we would have been faced with is keeping the males away from the females and vice versa. Relationships are terribly destructive for anyone involved in that point of their treatment,” he said.

The proposed partnership was only meant to be a short-term stopgap until Transformation House Ministries was able to raise enough funding to build a halfway house for women in Potsdam.

“It was only supposed to be on a relatively short interval that we were supposed to work together,” Mr. Aldrich said.

While Transformation House continues its efforts, at the moment there remains a lack of support for women coming out of rehab programs.

“Everyone is acknowledging it is needed,” Mr. Aldrich said.

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