Community living is becoming popular around the nation, which makes it easier for individuals who have a common purpose to come together to support and strengthen one another. So it is for Central Village Housing (CVH), providing a holistic wellness approach to women in transformation. Bernard Jones and his wife Georgia have owned and operated two sober living houses for women since 2015.
Georgia Giles-Jones is a Minnesota native, having attended St. Paul Central High School and then St. Paul College, where she met her husband Bernard, a Michigan native. Together they raised their family in what is now one of their sober houses for women. Having witnessed firsthand the effects of addiction and its negative impact on individuals, families, and communities, the couple is committed to rendering a safe space for women as the Jones grow their business.
According to their brochure, Central Village Housing’s mission is to provide a quality sober living environment for women who are ambitious about recovery. Located in St. Paul communities, Central Village House and Fuller House are in the Summit-University neighborhood and the Blair House is in the Frogtown neighborhood.
The couple says they are focused on St. Paul, as Minneapolis housing rules and regulations are structured differently and they love the community where they met and grew up. With a mother, sister, and other family members falling to the captivities of addition, Georgia and Bernard struggled in a generational addiction that claimed their son.
The streets did not provide safety to support their son on the road to recovery as a teenager in and out of inpatient treatment facilities. Without a criminal record, nothing mandated their son to stay in a recovering facility. With a criminal record, an individual is often mandated by the court system to get into recovery programs that help them to get off chemical dependency.
Georgia said, “So with my son, he didn’t have any criminal activity. It was like if he had charges, they could mandate him or do something more, and it’s like who wants to lie just so he could get the help?” Georgia’s son is now successfully recovering from the effects of chemical dependency.
Georgia’s background is in residential and group housing; her sister was a treatment director at NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center in North Minneapolis and mentioned doing a sober home to the Jones. With the idea planted, the Jones decided to turn their home into a sober house and move their children to another house.
“My son didn’t have any criminal activity, and who wants to lie just so he could get the help?”
The couple’s first house has 12 women, and their second home, Blair House, has eight residents. The Jones employed a former addict as a house manager who lives off-site and manages both houses. The Central Village and Blair House provide the same services, and residents need to be very independent in their will to recover. Also, fellow residents are supportive of one another.
To live in one of their homes comes down to not having triggers. Residents also follow a curfew that helps them avoid being out in the evening when chances would increase to fall back into addictions. To be housed requires 30 days’ sobriety from chemical use, day-to-day sobriety, baseline urine analysis (UA), 20 hours of Intense Out Patient (IOP), volunteering, schooling or working.
The houses also require two Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) weekly meetings, a weekly house meeting, and house chores. They have dealt with residents who’ve had HIV and Hepatitis C, and they speak with the residents about cleaning up after themselves and bleaching down communal living areas.
Georgia said, “We don’t know what anyone has, so [we] assume they have it and [require them to] clean up after themselves. We can’t disclose if anyone has diseases, so we talk in general terms [about] the flu and spreading germs. We remind our residents that you never know and teach them how to clean up after themselves.”
If someone relapses the other residents notify the company so that they themselves don’t fall back into the clutches of addiction. They are committed to helping each other stay clean for themselves and family members.
A large part of recovery for women is being able to visit their families, and Central Village Housing, LLC is aware of this, allowing two nights a week where the women can go home and stay with their kids and other family members instead of at the sober house.
The company has dealt with women relapsing, diseases and overdoses, but the women remain focused on their goals of providing a supportive journey for other women coming out of addiction lifestyles. Residents pay monthly rent and have the ability to strive in group environments while having wi-fi access, laundry amenities, and a summer garden.
The independence of actively working on recovery is the main theme of both houses. A minimum of a three-month stay is required; residents move out once they believe they can support themselves. One of the houses has a resident coming up on a one-year anniversary of living in the company’s facility, which is the longest someone has stayed.
In 2016 the couple opened Fuller House, attempting to turn the top of a duplex into sober living, but the downstairs resident had triggers that risked setting the women back from their recovery roads. The company decided to relinquish that house for the sake of the women and in 2017 opened the Blair House instead.
Bernard focuses more on the behind-the-scenes business of the company, such as maintenance and repairs, hiring contractors, construction projects, and creating a protected safe environment for the women. Initially, when they were transitioning from their main house, they had to buy a new furnace, put in a security system, and complete other house updates.
Central Village Housing is committed to supplying services to women on their journey to staying sober.
Jonika Stowes welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jonika Stowes is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. She can be reached at email@example.com.