Supervisors hear ‘Discovery House’ update

Thursday, November 8, 2018
The Clay County Board of Supervisors met with officials from the Discovery House (above) — a transitional housing facility located in Spirit Lake for an update. The officials also operate Daniel House (below) as a housing option for persons who leave Discovery House.
Photos submitted

During their Wednesday meeting, the Clay County Board of Supervisors met with officials from the Discovery House — a transitional housing facility located in Spirit Lake — who thanked the board for their continued support each year and offered an update regarding their efforts to help those in need. Discovery House is a Christian nonprofit organization founded in 1993 and serves as a sober house and homeless shelter. In 2017, the organization added a second facility — Daniel House — to their efforts, with the Daniel House located directly adjacent to Discovery House.

“Demographics of our residents from the last year, you can see 91 percent were from Iowa,” Discovery House Director Julie Scheib said. “Break it down by counties, you had 9 percent from Clay County, that’s down a little bit from last year. We had almost 18 percent from Clay County last year.”

Clay County Supervisor Barry Anderson questioned Scheib to what she thought caused the decrease.

“Why would you see the decrease?” Anderson said. “Do you have anybody else in the area that’s helping?”

“Not that I know of,” Scheib said. “The one thing, we’ve been full. ... Right now, we have one person at the Daniel House from Clay County and a couple people from Clay County at the Discovery House.”

Scheib said the average census of residents at the organization has increased.

“Their average length of stay is a couple months and they’re on their way,” Scheib said. “Our average census has increased over the years to 11. It remained consistent at eight for 25 years, but now it’s up to 11. Genderwise, we’re seeing more women. That’s ever increasing. The age group has changed a little bit, we’re seeing more younger people between the ages of 25 and 40.”

Bob Shaw, chairman of the Discovery House Board of Directors, shared how Daniel House has operated in the organization’s efforts. Shaw said Daniel House, which unlike Discovery House, operates in a rental environment, is partially under construction to accommodate additional residents. Daniel House originally could accommodate three residents.

“We found that people were living with us for years or they’d live and come back,” Shaw said. “It became apparent that we needed another place for them to go, so we bought the Daniel House right across the alley. When they come to Discovery House they have nothing. We charge them $50 a week and we require them to find a job and get on their feet. ... They usually get a job and it’s a low income job, but they’re feeling good about themselves. They run a bill and they start to pay us back and the first time they can make a payment they’re pretty proud that they accomplished something.

He continued, “... But once they get out of Discovery House, they go back into the real world. They have that low income job, feeling great about themselves all of a sudden they’re hit with reality — $600 to $800 rent plus everything else. So they end up regressing back to alcohol and drugs and coming right back. That gave us an opportunity to help people in that next step of their recovery (through Daniel House). ... We’re in the process of remodeling the upstairs which will add four more rooms, two more bathrooms. ... Eventually, it will help cover expenses.”

Supervisor Dan Skelton asked Shaw about the timeline for the Daniel House additions.

“How soon do you expect to have those four additional rooms?” Skelton said.

“Hopefully by January we should be able to have that up and running,” Shaw said.

Shaw said the organization is doing well in 2018, with “all our bills paid current.” The chairman said he hopes to collaborate with similar northwest Iowa organizations like Grand Avenue Community Outreach in the future.

“We’re going to approach partnering with (GACO), where in the future some of their people could come up into the Daniel House once they go through their recovery process. This could be a good combination down the road.”

“We have a definite need through this corridor,” Anderson said. “Any collaboration we could do would be beneficial.”

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