FALLS CITY – A group of pastors and Southeast Nebraska Community Action are pursuing the Richardson County House of Hope to provide faith-based, drug-free housing for people in the crisis of addiction.

Jerry Yount, former pastor of the Barada United Methodist Church, said it’s not a new idea.

Yount: “We have been praying about this for five years. Five years ago, when we tried this, all the doors go shut. This time, when we went around, all the doors are flying open.”

Sherry Huddleston of SENCA said Richardson County had 19 homeless people at one point last winter and the Richardson County jail is reporting unparalleled census of jail inmates. The pressure on the new 24-bed facility is prompting county commissioners to hire an architect for jail expansion.

Yount: “When people come out of that jail, some of them, especially the ones that are compromised with drugs, come out and have no place to go. They have no money, no transportation and they go right back to the drug house that they came from.”

The group has formed a non-profit and established a board of directors hoping to secure resources for $300,000 a year to staff and maintain the House of Hope.

Sheriff Hardesty said oftentimes people caught up in addiction need one more reason to stay sober than they have for using drugs. Tim Boatright, pastor of Good News Assembly of God church at Falls City, said faith can provide that “one-more reason.”

Boatright: “The only hope we have for helping people is the hope of Jesus Christ helping them day-to-day to have strength to stay off the drugs and alcohol. We’re having Christian based in that we want Christian directors, we want Christian household living environment to give them support in their time of need.”

He said a faith community can provide a safety net for people worried about slipping.

The House of Hope will have a zero-tolerance policy, but Sheriff Hardesty said effective rehabilitation oftentimes means effective response to relapse.

Hardesty: “They are a product of their environment. You know, they grew up in it or they are around it – all their family, their friends. That’s the people they associated with. That’s why it’s hard because everything in their life has to change. And then they have the addiction that they are fighting and now they have nobody.”

The board of directors members are  David Sickel, Jerry Duerfeldt,  Gayle Keller, Sarah Morris,  Julie Bauman, Linda Santo and Ashley Schramm.