Set Free Alaska, a faith-based addiction treatment program, is moving forward with plans to open a 16-bed residential treatment facility for men in downtown Homer.
The Homer Advisory Planning Commission approved Set Free’s request for a conditional-use permit Wednesday, which will allow it to open the treatment center in the basement of the Refuge Chapel in the city’s central business district.
The commission received a handful of written comments expressing concerns about the location of the facility, fearing it could lead to break-ins at nearby businesses and in adjacent neighborhoods.
Set Free Executive Director Philip Licht told commissioners that while his staff wouldn’t be able prevent clients from leaving the program entirely, it will accompany actively participating clients while they’re out in the community. Anyone leaving before they complete the program would also be offered transportation back to their home community. Staff will also be on site 24 hours a day.
Some commissioners questioned how nearby property owners would be affected, but ultimately approved the permit, clearing a large hurdle for Set Free.
This follows the Homer City Council’s decision not to provide Set Free with roughly $175,000 in funding.
The organization received $1.5 million from the state to start the program in Homer, and Licht told council members that Set Free may not be able to move forward with the project without funding support from the city.
Licht told KBBI Wednesday that Set Free is currently fundraising for the remainder of the project. He says if that effort falls short, his organization plans to borrow the rest of the money it needs to launch the facility, which he hopes to have open by early 2020.