LIMA — The sign outside Mary Alice’s House says it’s a sober living environment.
The West Elm Street facilities offer a chance at sobriety to addicts and alcoholics. For five years, they have also provided room and board to paroled sex offenders.
Mary Alice’s House, a ministry of Philippian Missionary Baptist Church, contracts with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections as an independent housing provider.
The state created independent housing in 2004 to lessen the burden on halfway houses and provide temporary housing for offenders, including sex offenders, without other viable housing options, said Alicia Handwerk, chief of the state’s Bureau of Community Sanctions.
As of Tuesday, 15 registered sex offenders, all men, lived at Mary Alice’s House, according to the Allen County Sheriff’s Office. The state contracts for 10 beds and pays for 90-day stays with possible extensions. After that, offenders can live in independent housing at their own expense. In the case of Mary Alice’s, the ministry subsidizes their housing if needed.
Providing a home to sex offenders, who many times need recovery help along with clothes, proper identification and jobs, fits with the ministry’s mission, said the Rev. Bruce Monford, Mary Alice’s manager.
“They’re not bad people; they made mistakes,” Monford said. “God forgives people who make mistakes. Sometimes loving people is not comfortable.”
Monford balances helping offenders with the community’s safety. He said the public interest is better served and offenders are better off with a structured environment in which someone helps and monitors them, as opposed to offenders homeless with no job or treatment.
A records check shows no reported incidents involving offenders placed there through the state contract in 2009, and Monford said the home has never had to report an incident involving sex offenders.
The state is supposed to pay $109,000 a year for the beds. In recent years because of budget cuts, the state has not made full payment, Monford said. Mary Alice’s House, which is actually now three houses, is still largely supported by the church and other donations, Monford said.
Independent housing helps fill several needs in the state corrections system, Handwerk said. Sex offenders are severely restricted in where they can live, so many times living with a family member, for example, isn’t viable because that home is too close to a school or daycare.
The state also found that lower-level offenders living in halfway houses with higher-level offenders contributed to them re-offending, so it created the independent housing contracts.
Offenders are not living there as a condition of their parole, as they are in halfway houses. The state does not require them to be monitored as part of the contract. Monford said many sex offenders at Mary Alice’s are monitoring, including with ankle bracelets, because of conditions of their parole.
Read more about the state’s independent housing program at www.limaohio.com.
MARY ALICE’S HOUSE
Brothers and the Revs. Bruce and Lamont Monford opened Mary Alice’s House in February 2002. They named it in memory of their mother, Mary Alice Mosley, a drug addict who died in 1981. Her murder remains unsolved.
First open only to men, the facility added a women’s house in 2003 and now includes a privilege house with fewer restrictions. The homes are largely funded by Philippian Missionary Baptist Church, where Lamont Monford pastors.
Addicts and alcoholics participate in 12-step recovery programs and use other home and community resources.