Harbor Counseling opens transitional housing

Dignitaries pose for a photo on the porch of the new transitional housing facility in Delmar Township.

WELLSBORO — The transitional housing facility, operated by Harbor Counseling on State Route 287, south of Wellsboro, is seeing positive results for the people using it.

Mike Spencer, clinical director, and Laurie Roof, project director, spoke with this newspaper about the results of the first year of operation. The facility, which opened Jan. 31, 2019, is designed for clients who are transitioning from incarceration or inpatient treatment. They typically live in the house for six to nine months, receiving individual and/or group treatment at Harbor while working on life skills, such as getting a GED, securing a driver’s license, getting a job and health insurance or other goals.

The facility has been at near capacity, averaging six to seven residents at all times, said Spencer. A total of 21 clients have stayed there, 15 of who were using opiates. Twelve people who were opiate addicts are no longer using opiates.

Of the original residents, six have been drug and alcohol free for more than a year. Five of the original residents are working full time; three have been reunited with and gained custody of their children.

“We choose people who were interested in and wanted to succeed,” said Spencer about the first group of residents in the house. “For us to have five to six success stories after a year is huge. Twelve people who were opiate addicts are no longer opiate addicts.”

“There have been a lot of success stories and this shows people that there is hope,” Roof added.

During their stay, each resident is paired with a certified recovery specialist, who helps that person work on his or her recovery plan. Tyler Kutz has served as the house manager since it opened and two additional certified recovery specialists, Shane Mahosky and Ashley Dexter, are also providing service there.

“Of the first six, it took them six to nine months to reach all their goals,” said Spencer. “For fIve of the six, the program did exactly what the program is designed to do.”

The third group of residents is just starting to receive treatment at the house.

“We learned a lot over the past year. For the majority of people, it works really well,” Spencer said. “We believe what we have going on here gives these people what they need to be successful.”

The transitional housing program involves other agencies to help the clients acquire the life skills needed to optimize their chance to succeed.

Thirteen of the 21 clients are still receiving treatment with Harbor Counseling. Four residents have used Fit 4 Work through Trehab to find employment. Three clients have been involved with the Tioga County Drug Court.

“We have a waiting list for the house; I could fill three houses like that,” Spencer said.

After completing this program the house residents become productive members of society once again. They contribute to the local economy by holding a job, paying rent and no longer receiving food or medical assistance.

“We’re doing what we can to fight the opiate problem Tioga County has. It isn’t going away,” Spencer said.

Harbor currently serves 175 clients at the facilities in Wellsboro and Blossburg. There is room for growth at the Blossburg site, said Roof. For more information on the programs and services provided by Harbor, call 570-724-5272 or email harbor12@ptd.net.