Transitional housing for women to close in Clark County

Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 6:13 PM PST
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BATTLE GROUND, Wash. (KPTV) — A place in Clark County that helps women recover from addiction may soon be forced to close its doors because of a technicality in their lease agreement with the county.

The Grace Lodge in Battle Ground has been a refuge for women battling addiction and trying to get back on their feet in Clark County for 13 years. X Change Recovery, a local nonprofit, has been running recovery programs on the county-owned property for hundreds of women since the lease was signed in 2010. But after more than a decade in operation, the county is terminating the lease.

Kelly Phillips was battling addiction before she moved into Grace Lodge six years ago. She said without the help of staff, her life would be completely different.

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“When you come off the streets you don’t know what home is like,” Phillips said. “This place really redefines how a home should be.”

A dozen women who went through the X Change Recovery programs at the Grace Lodge shared stories of pain of living with addiction and what it was like to break free.

Terry Harwood walked through the front doors of the Grace Lodge in 2021. She is now working to get her peer counselor license to work at PeaceHealth in Vancouver.

“When I came through the door, I saw the mural of Jesus on the wall and I knew I was home,” Harwood said. " I felt welcome by all the women in the house from the minute I got here.”

But even with so much success, the Grace Lodge may shut down. The reason lies in the lease that was signed in 2010. When pen went to paper, the Grace Lodge was zoned in rural land. All they needed was an occupational permit.

Sometime between then and now, Clark County re-zoned the land to Public Facilities changing the permitting requirements which X Change Recovery is not eligible for. So in January, the county gave the Grace Lodge a final notice to leave the property.

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Rachel Sterling was one of many women at the Grace Lodge to learn the county was terminating the lease.

“I can’t believe they’re going to take our home, it’s very sad,” Sterling said.” This is changing lives; I don’t understand it but I’m trusting God.”

On Tuesday many of the women addressed the Clark County Council during a special session meeting. They told councilors about the positive impact the Grace Lodge has made on their lives. The councilors acknowledged many of their comments and feelings.

They discussed possibly grandfathering the Grace Lodge into the new zoning requirements. By the end of the session, it was decided to give the women living on the property until the end of April to move out.

X Change Recovery does have a location for everyone to move to, but that’ll require moving the men living on that property into a new home. A location for them has not been found.

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Clark County sent FOX 12 this statement:

The county fully supports the need for residential housing for women seeking recovery and recognizes the successes that this program has had in our community. The County and X Change Recovery, who operates Grace Lodge, had a six-month extension in their lease to allow X Change Recovery to find other housing options as the zoning of the property does not allow this use on the property. That lease extension expired on January 31, 2023. Clark County Community Services staff members have offered assistance for these individuals to find and move to a new location; however, X Change Recovery did let the county know that they have solidified housing for the women. With that said, the lease extension approved by Council this morning is in alignment with X Change Recovery’s request to provide additional time to allow for relocation. "

“There’s nothing like this house, this house is one in a million,” Jamie Jackson, a one-year resident at the Grace Lodge said. “Nothing can replace what this house has given to each one of us and what could give to the future of the woman who are going to come after us.”