AK Center Non-Violent Living

Becca Brado, Housing Director at the Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living, poses next to a play pen inside one of the IAC's two recovery houses for women in recovery from substance abuse. Cheryl Upshaw/News-Miner

To break the patterns of addiction, sometimes a person has to leave their home and find a new way to live. The Interior Center for Non-Violent Living has created a program for women who need a safe place to live their lives while in recovery.

According to the center's housing director, Becca Brado, a lot of her clients find that life can be unmanageable when trying to balance their recovery in the same environment they lived in before they started their recovery. By partnering with local organizations and using federal grant funding, the center created two low-cost “recovery houses,” based on the model of the National Association of Recovery Houses, both of which opened this year, in March and June, respectively.

“They found that there’s some proven structure that really works in order to assist someone who is working on their sobriety, regardless of what substance that is, to find support through each other living in one house and encouraging one another,” explained IAC Executive Director Brenda Stanfill. The houses provide help in life skills and access to needed resources, such as job services and interviewing.

Additionally, recovery housing allows women in recovery a safe space to live while they work through issues with substance misuse. This is important to Brado, who has been in recovery for the past seven years herself. “Recovery is my passion,” she said.

She consulted on the grant application that helped to create the program, and after she was laid off from a prior position, she was asked to join the team at IAC. “Little did I know I was writing my next job,” she said. Brado has been involved in the nonprofit sector since 2007 and enjoys fundraising and development. She said she likes to connect organizations with the means to accomplish their goals.

“I want so badly for the women to succeed. I’m a person in long-term recovery myself, so I know about addiction. I know how hard it can be to change, but that change can happen. We can and do recover. I want the women to find the same freedom,” she said.

There are two houses, one of which is located downtown and the other is located off University Avenue. The downtown house has four bedrooms and accommodates up to five single women. The house near University has three units and can accommodate up to four single women or three women with young children up to age 8.

The houses are not treatment centers, rather, they attempt to facilitate treatment by providing a sober space, encouraging — though not requiring — residents to attend substance abuse group meetings and providing peer support from others working through their own recovery. The houses provide both basic amenities, such as a phone, a shared computer, food, a place to cook it and services specific to recovery.

To start with, every person living in the houses is sober. Additionally, there is staff available to help residents and connect them with needed resources. This also includes a peer support specialist and an independent living specialist.

Residents are required to pay a fee to live in the recovery houses. The fee is $75 per week for a shared room or $150 per week for a private room. This must be paid in a timely fashion, per the houses’ rules, but residents are given the opportunity to work at the IAC to pay their fees. They can perform work service at the women’s shelter for $15 per hour, which is given as credit for rent. This work can include doing laundry or sorting through donations, among other tasks.

The housing is in high demand. There is a waitlist that Brado’s team is working through. There are more single women on the list than single mothers.

“Our goal is restoration of lives and stabilization and helping people rejoin the community as contributing members. So often, in our addictions, we take from the community and the hallmark of being a healthy person is being able to give back,” she said.

As Brado explained, residents can stay anywhere from six months to forever. Once a resident is approved and moves in, so long as they follow the rules, they can stay indefinitely.

Those who wish to donate to the IAC recovery houses can buy something off its Amazon wish list, which can be found at a.co/f9lfaqV. Additionally, donations can be dropped off at the Interior Center for Non-Violent Living, 726 26th Ave., Suite 1, with memos to specify support for recovery housing.

While many of the houses’ food needs are met by the Fairbanks Community Food Bank, they cannot take in milk, eggs and butter. Brado said donations of Fred Meyer gift cards to purchase these items are always appreciated.

Contact staff writer Cheryl Upshaw at 459-7572 or find her on Twitter: @FDNMcity.

Editor's Note: For the safety and privacy of the residents, some of whom have fled situations of domestic violence, the addresses of the recovery houses will not be published.