Recovery homes could be built in Fort Ethan Allen

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ESSEX, Vt. (WCAX) More drug recovery homes are coming to Vermont but some neighbors don't want it to happen.

Essex could see three houses cleared out, and 32 beds put in for people recovering from opioid addiction.

WCAX News asked some to residents on and off camera at the Fort Ethan Allen homes in Essex. They say adding these recovery homes is necessary for Vermont, but they don't want it in their community.

Homeowner Randall Bullis says he was shocked when he learned his neighbors will be relocated as recovery houses move in.

"I'm pretty afraid for the families that live there that benefit from where they live," Bullis said.

Eve Rivait is a single mom of two, and rents from one of the Fort Ethan Allen homes. Rivait says she is being booted so a recovery home can take the place of her current home.

"This was supposed to be home, stable," Rivait said. "I want to stay in Essex, I came here for a reason."

The chief operating and financial officer at the Champlain Housing Trust, Michael Monte, says his group works to get people into housing. Monte says he feels strongly that turning the buildings into recovery homes is a good thing. The trust owns three of the houses being repurposed for drug recovery.

"We will work with those families to make sure that they are in a good place," said Monte.

Monte says there's a need, and the trust plans to do more than $1 million in renovations. One house will be for men, one for women and the third would be for families.

"These are people who are living their lives, who are looking to fully recover and get back on their feet," Monte said.

As for the community concerns, Monte says past results show that recovery homes tend to mix well.

"We will be responsive to individuals and the people," Monte said. "We are going to do the best we can to move this forward because we think it's the right thing to do."

Essex neighbors are still on the fence.

"We do need more of this," Rivait said. "But this is not the place."

"I'm not saying these people are bad," Bullis said. "I'm sure they are the best people that they are, it's the unknown."

A public meeting scheduled for September for people to voice their opinions. The project has not been approved as the housing trust is still looking for funding.