Community Health

Amy Kalber was 11 when she first started using drugs and she remained hooked into addiction for 16 years. She finally found sobriety through Volunteers of America in Kentucky, and on Thursday she helped welcome visitors and guests to VOA’s new treatment facility on Second Street.

A children's play room in the new 2nd Street VOA facilityKyeland Jackson | wfpl.org

A children’s play room in the new 2nd Street VOA facility

The $3.5 million facility is one of several VOA buildings in Louisville. It can house up to 23 women and their kids. It also has outpatient programs to help people living outside the facility, as well as educational programs for its residents and their kids to learn and develop skills.

Louisville Metro Council President David James attended the grand opening Thursday. James said the Metro Council put $515,000 into VOA Recovery at Second Street, and said it will help area residents deal with addiction in ways incarceration can’t.

“We will never be able to arrest our way out of the drug problem in our country, and so we have to really address the core issues that cause the drug problem,” James said. “We have to address the issues of treating the people.”

A standard bedroom in the new 2nd Street VOA facilityKyeland Jackson | wfpl.org

A standard bedroom in the new 2nd Street VOA facility

He said the city also helps fund other treatment facilities in Louisville.

“We help the Healing Place and many other addiction recovery facilities. We put money into the Living Room. And so all of those things combined, and many more, are what’s helping drive down the numbers of overdose deaths we have in our community,” said James.

Started in 2017, the Living Room is a treatment facility for people with mental health or addiction issues who’ve been encountered by Louisville Police. Instead of going to jail, they are referred to the Living Room.

Living Room wants to expand its services, allowing people to check themselves in for help instead of only being referred by LMPD. Living Room officials asked Mayor Greg Fischer for $1.3 million, according to James and Ackerson, but would receive $685,000.

VOA Facility 2nd Street Grand OpeningKyeland Jackson | wfpl.org

VOA Facility 2nd Street Grand Opening

Kalber, who’s been a case manager for nearly five years, said Louisville is desperately in need of more facilities like VOA’s new Second Street recovery center. She said she hears about people dying regularly, but many who want help are turned away because of lack of space.

“We have so many people on waiting lists for places like this, and they hardly exist,” Kalber said. “Volunteers of America is one of the only places that can open up this kind of place and get this kind of dream done to open doors for people like that.”

VOA said its Shelby Street campus facility will continue to operate at full capacity, and James and Ackerson said they will continuing pushing to get the Living Room more funding for the next fiscal year.

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.