The purchase of the house at 63 Washington Street in Camden by Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition (MCRC), a nonprofit that supports individuals and families recovering from alcohol and drug addiction, is set to close on January 17. Funds had to be raised quickly in order to secure the house, and the goal was accomplished largely through a burst of fundraising in December

“There was a great deal of broad-based, local support for MCRC’s efforts to help address the opioid epidemic and to help people in recovery,” said Ira Mandel, MCRC’s executive director. “The house at 63 Washington also had great appeal to many supporters. It served the needs of people in the community for 120 years, elderly women for most of those years, and many wished to see the house continue to serve the public good rather than to simply be converted to a private home.”

Under the supervision of MCRC, the house will provide shelter and support to women and their children as the women work to recover and rebuild their lives.

According to Mandel, nearly all the funds were raised through approximately 400 individual donors, including several from out of state. Volunteers aided the fundraising effort by mailing nearly 4,000 postcards to area residents. The project also received support from the West Bay Rotary Club and an unnamed church that Mandel said “made a significant donation.”

MCRC’s next steps, prior to opening the recovery house at 63 Washington Street in Camden, include meeting with community members, receiving zoning approval, and completing minor restoration work.

A community meeting will be held Thursday, January 24, at 6 p.m. at Chestnut Street Baptist Church in Camden to discuss the operation of the recovery house, including policies, the application process and program goals. The establishment of a community advisory committee, volunteer opportunities, and future fundraising efforts will also be addressed.

“Once MCRC takes ownership, the only renovations that will be needed would be to eliminate the possibility of lead exposure to the child residents from paint on door and window frames in the 120-year-old house,” Mandel said, noting the structure “otherwise is in excellent condition.”

He also said that, “based on ongoing conversations with the Camden Town Office since June and also the overwhelming number of communities who opt to comply with the national Fair Housing Act and American Disability Act provisions,” MCRC feels confident of approval by Camden’s Zoning Board of Appeals. “Clearly,” he said, “MCRC has enjoyed the community’s support to use 63 Washington for its planned purpose.”

Mandel said the house will likely have an annual budget of $200,000 to $250,000, with residents expected to contribute a fixed monthly amount based on ability to pay. The first residents are not expected to move in before May or June, when MCRC expects to have finalized procedures and staff hiring.

The majority of the budget will cover the cost of seven-day, round-the-clock staffing. Recovery residences do not provide treatment, but rather foster a supportive environment, according to Mandel, who said “recovery coaches” and “house managers” will provide residents with connections to services and community resources.

The property at 63 Washington Street began its community service in 1886 when a group petitioned to have a home for elderly women established. A cornerstone for The Home for Aged Women was laid in 1898. After a period of inactivity, the First Congregational Church of Camden purchased the property in 1983 to serve as an assisted living facility.