Sioux City man turns former drug house into safe house - Quad-Cities Online: Iowa

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Sioux City man turns former drug house into safe house

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Posted: Monday, September 14, 1998 1:00 am | Updated: 11:09 am, Tue Apr 22, 2014.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) -- The 100-year-old, red-tagged house has seen better days. It has been a manor for the wealthy, a nursing home, then an apartment house.

More recently it had been a drug house, its basement marked by graffiti from gangs.

Now, a recovering alcoholic is turning it into a haven for other men trying to stay on a clean path.

John W., who asked that only his last initial be used, calls it simply The House.

John, 31, made the decision in February to provide a safe house where men in recovery could live drug-free, in safety and with the support of others, away from the drug-cluttered environments that got them into trouble in the first place.

``That's a real recovery killer,'' John said of returning to former homes and friends.

The first tenants, each of whom will pay $225 monthly rent, are expected to move in Oct. 1. The House will be run as a non-profit business and without government subsidies.

``I don't want to pray to the budget cut gods,'' John explained.

John and a full-time volunteer, Jeff, have been cleaning, painting, remodeling and repairing since February, turning the five apartments into living quarters for up to 15 men.

The neighbors, if they had any misgivings at first, now seem supportive, John said. He and they chat together like any other neighbors, about vacations, plans and family matters.

At John's house there are few rules -- no drugs or alcohol on the property, attend two Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous meetings a week, stay sober and pay rent on time. They will mostly be enforced on the honor system.

There will be no formal meetings at the house.

``But we have a saying -- anytime you have two people in recovery, you have a meeting,'' he said.

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