OTRCH Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the Recovery Hotel

OTRCH Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the Recovery Hotel

by Justin Jeffre
Mary Burke Rivers, Donald Whitehead, Pat Clifford and Vice Mayor David Mann Photo: Andy Hutzel

On a very warm and beautiful Friday, May 6th, local nonprofit Over-the-Rhine Community Housing celebrated the 20th anniversary of Recovery Hotel, which provides permanent supportive housing for homeless men and women in recovery from substance abuse. The event was well attended and many passionate speakers spoke about how the Recovery Hotel had helped them transform their lives from being out on the streets to becoming incredibly productive and engaged citizens.

Donald Whitehead giving the keynote speech Photo: Andy Hutzel
Donald Whitehead giving the keynote speech Photo: Andy Hutzel

Over-the-Rhine Community Housing serves as owner, manager, and service provider for Recovery Hotel. Rent for all 20 efficiency units is subsidized through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Shelter Plus Care Program, which is administered through a contract with Strategies to End Homelessness. Skilled case management services as well as daily, on-site Narcotics Anonymous meetings provide residents the support needed to maintain their housing, secure income, and rebuild their lives.

The event featured current and former residents speaking about their experience at Recovery Hotel, including Donald Whitehead, one of the country’s foremost experts on homelessness. A former resident of Recovery Hotel, Donald is now the Manager of Outreach and Case Management at Healthcare Center for the Homeless in Orlando. Speaking of his time at Recovery Hotel, Donald said, “For me, Recovery Hotel was much more than a building; it was an oasis in the desert of destruction caused by active addiction. It was the place where I learned that my situation was not my destiny.”

Longtime Homeless Coalition supporters remember that many years ago Donald became our executive director and helped start Streetvibes. He along with Pat Clifford, Greg Payton, Jimmy Heath and many others made this project what it is today, one of the longest lasting street papers in the nation.

Andy Hutzel, Director of Housing Services at Over-the-Rhine Community Housing, helped open Recovery Hotel 20 years ago. “The Recovery Hotel has stood on Vine Street in Over-the-Rhine for the past 20 years as a place for homeless men and women to recover, work, and become part of a supportive community,” said Hutzel. “Several people, like buddy gray, worked for years to make this project happen and it has delivered on all of its promises.”

Many former residents move on to successful careers and continue to give back to the community by supporting others who engage in the journey of recovery. Since opening in 1996, the program has served 255 individuals with a successful completion rate of 83%. Now in its 20th year, the success of this innovative housing program demonstrates how housing, compassion, and support can transform the lives of individuals in recovery.

Donald Whitehead reunites with many old friends Photo: Andy Hutzel
Donald Whitehead reunites with many old friends Photo: Andy Hutzel

Founded in 1978, the mission of Over-the-Rhine Community Housing is to build and sustain a diverse neighborhood that values and benefits low-income residents. They focus on developing and managing resident-centered, affordable housing in an effort to promote an inclusive community.

Over-the-Rhine Community Housing (OTRCH) is a non-profit community development organization that provides a wide spectrum of affordable and supportive housing options with life-changing programs that help low-income residents in Over-the-Rhine succeed. To meet its mission, OTRCH has restored 123 properties (420 housing units) and assembled 20+ service providers/agency partners to ensure that residents receive affordable housing along with access to health care, job services, education, faith-based services and community associations that strengthen their ability to succeed. OTRCH is located at 114 West 14th Street in Over-the-Rhine. To learn more about OTRCH, visit www.otrch.org.