Transitional Housing Facility Approved in Kalispell

The city council supported a conditional use permit for a five-person, faith-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation group home program on First Avenue West

By Maggie Dresser
A gavel in Kalispell City Council Chambers. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The Kalispell City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved a conditional use permit for a faith-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation program on the city’s west side that will serve as transitional housing for five people.

Absolute Ministries secured the property located at 730 1st Avenue West, which will host five people with the capacity for eight. The program’s participants would complete the first phase of the program at a separate location and will be required to have at least four months of continuous sobriety to be accepted. The organization has another operating facility on Main Street in Kalispell.

Since the transitional housing is a secondary phase to a more intensive rehab program, the facility is not required to operate under a state license, and it does not qualify for Medicaid and Medicare.

“The reason is this is a transitional housing for residents that have already gone through the main program,” Kalispell Senior Planner PJ Sorensen said.

Aaron McPherson, the president and CEO of Absolute Ministries Kalispell, spoke during public comment, explaining what the program does.

“What we offer at Absolute Ministries is safe housing, mentoring, discipline, financial guidance, accountability, employment assistance, transportation assistance and a positive community,” McPherson said. “These are vital pieces for an individual to gain traction again in their life.”

While two other individuals spoke during public comment in support of the project, Al Wilson criticized the organization for its Washington state headquarters, lack of a house manager, its faith-based methods and its for-profit status.

Jim Driscoll, the cofounder and CEO of Recovery Centers of Montana, praised the program, saying transitional housing has been successful to prevent addicts from relapsing.

“I can tell you with my experience working with the applicant is they are an extremely positive effect on recidivism, rate of relapse and addiction,” Driscoll said. “I get the concern about a religious-based approach, but the people that are successful make their meetings, get a job and contribute to society.”

Councilors also voiced their support for the project, calling it a good program and hoped to see its participants successfully reintegrated into society.

“Transitional housing for people recovering from addiction is desperately needed,” Councilor Ryan Hunter said.

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