COVINGTON, Ky. (FOX19) - There’s a new place to get help in Covington, Kentucky for those coming out of rehab to keep them on the path to staying sober.
It’s a nearly $1,000,000 investment called the Twin Rails Sober Living Facility.
The turn-of-the-century mansion on Madison Avenue started out as a YMCA for men working the railroad.
"They’d get off the train, get cleaned up, get back on the train,” said Jay Millard, who owns the facility with his wife Marsha.
The twin rails, as the name suggests, are right outside the back door.
The Millards named it the Twin Rails Sober Living Facility for the railroad setting outside — and to symbolize the struggles of men whose lives have been derailed by alcohol or drugs.
"Every decision that you’ve made up to this point had gotten you to here, so what is your next decision?” Milliard said.
He said creating the facility was a huge undertaking.
"Besides the YMCA, it’s in its best shape now,” said Millard. “You may say, higher power, God tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘Yeah, this is something you might want to consider,’ and so I kind of jumped into it. But I didn’t realize I was jumping into the deep end, I thought I was going to tiptoe through the shallow part.”
Kenton County Commonwealth Attorney Rob Sanders emphasized the need for a large sober living facility like this in the county.
"This is another very important piece to the puzzle,” Sanders said.
But as a kid growing-up in Covington, he joked, the now beautifully appointed building had once been known as the “creepy house on the hill.”
"Looks like something they could have filmed a Halloween show or maybe had a haunted house at, but now it’s definitely been cleaned-up,” Sanders said.
The Millards have spent nearly $1,000,000, replacing everything from top to bottom, with brand new beds and clean, bright rooms, each complete with a TV and refrigerator.
The men who live at Twin Rails will tell you it’s not haunted, but the demons they all face daily are very real.
Douglas Houze was the first tenant to sign on at Twin Rails.
“I was a cocaine addict,” said Douglas Houze, who added his uncle introduced him to the drug when he was just 14.
He said Twin Rails is easiest the nicest sober living space he’s signed into.
"Roaches, bugs, people were still getting high and using inside of them, just no structure, no accountability,” Houze said of the other places he’s stayed. "I feel blessed to be here, and God’s in my favor. We’re all together as one fighting this addiction, and that makes us like brothers, and I really enjoy that.”
Sixty-five men will live there when it’s at-capacity, making it the largest facility in the area.
Twin Rails has a full-time professional staff who lives on-site, including manager Erick Moreno.
“Generally, when they’re in rehab, they’re already accustomed to being around a lot of people that hold them accountable and to just get out and go straight back to wherever that they came from originally," Moreno said. “That’s a big trigger — loneliness, depression."
Shawn Gardner, a new tenant, also capitalized how important support is when dealing with substance abuse.
"We need that physical contact with another human being, because without it, we just go back down that deep, dark hole that we came from,” Gardner said.
At 30 years old, Gardner spent some time in jail for substance abuse, but went through a new program there, which led him to Twin Rails. He said he has no plans to go back down another dark path that would lead to jail.
“Part of the problem is, when people get out of jail, they have nowhere to go,” he said. “And they go back to bad environments, which lead them back to criminal activities.”
Sanders said that’s why places like Twin Rails exist.
"So, if you have a facility like this, where they can do that step down from the residential treatment facility, to where they’re back in the world but coming home to a safe, a sober environment, that’s certainly gotta improve their chances and we welcome it,” he said.
Sanders also said there’s a new spike on the streets in meth use, and they put dozens of defendants into rehab every week.
“We have to get people into detox. We then have to get them into long-term treatment, then when they graduate treatment, we need a place to go that is a step-down from treatment,” Sanders said. “Methamphetamine is just so easily accessible right now, that it’s replaced heroin as the No. 1 drug of choice for the addicts.”
Twin Rails Sober Living Facility is accepting men now. The men featured in this story all have jobs, and if tenants don’t, the facility pledges to help them find work.
Millard said a tenant cannot be a sex offender or a violent offender. Tenants will be subjected to random drug testing and background checks.
Twin Rails requires 30 days of sobriety before the tenant is accepted.
"I feel like that’s a good thing for the well-being of the people who already live here, because they’re a little bit more serious if they have 30 days before they move into the house, and we’re not bringing in a guy that has three days sober with everybody else, like the bad apple ruins the rest,” Moreno said.