Sober living home seeks change and compassion from city of Wichita Falls

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - A safe place for women to stay while battling drug or alcohol addiction is at a crossroads.

The owner of Athena's Grace Home in Wichita Falls, Mandy Blevins, has room for 12 women.

But, current city rules limit the number of women she can take in,  to six.

The city does not have ordinances that apply to sober living homes, like Athena's Grace, for now.

That means this home, according to the city, falls under a "personal care home."

This is keeping the non-profit from helping more women.

The sober living home is not affiliated with a church. Women who live here have to pay for room and board.

Blevins wants those recovering from addiction to find their own path to sobriety.

"We want people to live in supportive, stable environments, that promote their welfare, not take it away," Blevins said.

That is exactly what could happen if Blevins and the city do not come to an agreement about this sober living home.

"The concern is if they want to classify us as a personal care home and that's it, they leave us alone, that's fine. But they did come back and mention a possible security system, additional use permit, and vote by the city. (Those) are all beyond the scope of really what we're doing," she said.

The city will allow Blevins to up the number of residents from six to 12. But because they want to classify it as a "personal care home" adjustments, like a sprinkler system, may have to be added. Those are expenses Blevins cannot afford.

"Other than what activities go on inside this home (it) is no different than anyone else on this block," she said.

If they cannot compromise, Athena's Grace Home could close which could put several women's sobriety in jeopardy.

The next step for the home is to submit the special use permit application. Blevins said this is to help classify the home.

But she hopes the city can look at making changes to current ordinances to include sober living homes rather than try to make it fit under a category she said it does not.

For more information about Athena's Grace Home click here.

Samantha Forester, Newschannel 6

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