The county's only halfway house for women recovering from drug and alcohol addictions, the Marty Mann House, will close Nov. 30 as a result of state budget cuts.
The board of directors for the Marty MannHouse and its companion, the Mann House, a men's recovery center, decided to close the women's program because $65,800 was cut from the $131,000 state grant to operate the two programs.
"There is not a similar resource to that in all of Harford County," said J. Sue Henry, coordinator of the county's Drug and Alcohol Impact Program. "When it's gone that leaves a major gap in assistance for recovering women who need the support after they have completed a rehabilitation program."
"You can put a tombstone on the front page because that's about where we're at," said David Creed, who oversees the two halfway houses. "I got the notice of the cuts the day afterI got a plaque from the governor congratulating us on Mann House's 20th anniversary. Yet we have a war on drugs. Well, we're losing."
The two halfway houses in Bel Air, one on Williams Street and one on North Hickory Avenue, offer a structured residential program for recovering addicts.
Residents in the program are required to work during the day, participate in a family-style evening meal and attend daily meet
ings of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Group and individual counseling also is provided during a resident's stay, which usually lasts six months to a year.
Residents contribute $70 per week; as of Dec. 1, the fee for the Mann House program will beraised to $100 a week.
Creed said directors chose to close the Marty Mann House, which can serve up to seven women at a time, because it usually operates at half capacity and has a very high rent. Additional financial support from the Perry Point Veterans Hospital, which sometimes refers patients to the program, is another reason the Mann House won't have to close -- yet.
"Even Mann House is fighting forits survival," Creed said. "I'm afraid the program won't last another year."
Of the three women now living at the Marty Mann House, two have nearly completed the program, and the third will remain in thearea, probably attending some programs at the Mann House, Creed said.
Creed estimated the success rate of graduates from the two programs at about 66 percent. Over a 20-year period, the Mann House has had 500 men enrolled in the program, he said. The Marty Mann House, open for five years, has helped 15 women so far this year.
Henry pointed out, however, that such low numbers of women seeking treatment are not unusual; such programs have only recently become available to women and are not well-known.
"It's the women's services, the new kids on the block, who are the first ones being cut," Henry said.
Women's treatment programs have been slow to develop because society'sviews toward women and their roles have made it easier for a woman'saddiction to go undetected, she said.
"A woman needs a halfway house for re-entry more than a man because she's been identified later in the addiction process and to help her deal with the double dose ofguilt and shame she feels because society doesn't like to see women with these problems," Henry said.
Elaine, 23, who graduated from the Marty Mann House about a month ago, says overcoming her feelings of guilt posed a major problem and she credits the program with her recovery. She abused alcohol and drugs, including cocaine, for nine years before seeking treatment.
"You're probably going to have to 'bleep' me, I'm so angry about the closing," she said. "But I'm gratefulI got the chance to be in the program. I can't begin to say how grateful I am. I don't hate myself any more. I wish they weren't closing.There are a lot of women out there like me."