Renovated Georgetown home offers safe sober living

May 29, 2022

An affordable housing shortage is especially difficult for people whose personal history may leave them out of consideration for available units. This fuels a homelessness crisis that feeds into a cycle of drug and alcohol relapse, and criminal activity.

According to the Delaware Criminal Justice Council, the state's three-year recidivism rate is nearly 65% percent, the second highest in the country behind Alaska. For drug crimes, it’s close to 80% percent and getting worse. Last year, the Delaware Continuum of Care found homelessness increased 35% percent statewide, with Sussex County climbing 128% percent.

There’s some good news from Georgetown, where supportive living homes make a positive difference. "A safe house with peer support and employment resources is critical to those returning from substance treatment or incarceration,” said David Forman, president of Christian Grace, a company that provides supportive sober living spaces.

“Christian Grace is both our name and our mission," said Forman. ‘With addiction or criminal history, the deck is stacked against the chance of finding affordable housing. We help even the odds.”

The company’s success rate, measured by residents who move on to self-sufficient housing before relapse or recidivism, turns statistics upside down. Forman says more than 60% of residents are clean, sober and employed after two years or more.

Christian Grace homes are self-governed by residents who all have equal standing. “If a person backslides, it's not going to be missed by all housemates. Some events may be cause for immediate expulsion, or trigger a house meeting for discussion; from there, democracy rules,” he said.

The company’s latest and most ambitious project is at 1 New St. in Georgetown. The historic building, nearly 130 years old, has been completely updated from crawlspace to roof, and will house 10 men in private and shared rooms, and two women in a separate apartment. A memorial courtyard with gardens and a koi pond separates the dwellings, and serves as the main common area for residents to hold meetings based on Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous principles.

Forman said there are few if any true detox and rehab centers available nearby, so local mental health facilities are mostly a revolving door for a fast detox and release. Worse, he said, is that far too many people are prescribed maintenance meds that simply change the addiction to another substance. He said suboxone, methadone and others do nothing to heal and rewire the brain; they simply fool the receptors of similar drugs. For this reason, Christian Grace homes don’t accept people on maintenance medications.

“The thinking processes remain unchanged,” said Forman. “The brain is not restoring itself, but reinforcing pathways that avoid deep reasoning and remain numb to unaddressed emotions. Also, with few exceptions, these drugs are far harder to quit than the drug they’ve replaced.”

Dialectical behavior therapy is now the recognized way to help heal and change thinking, leaving addictive behavior behind. At its core, DBT helps build the four life skills of mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness and emotional regulation. “Living among peers in a supportive home, 12-step based meetings, and an environment promoting inner peace through mindfulness takes DBT out of classroom theory into real-time, real-life opportunities for growth,” Forman said.

Supportive living homes by necessity have no lease or landlord-tenant protections. Instead, residents agree to a set of rules based on the Oxford House sober living model of common etiquette, self-governance and proven 12-step traditions. Local code and national housing law classify these properties as SFR for single-family residence. The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 protects recovering people to live as a “family,” under the law’s definition of unrelated persons living together for a common purpose.

Andrea Broomall, the company’s housing manager, said, “Those ready to start their journey with us will find understanding and compassion regardless of their past. We ask only that people leave their egos at the door, attend meetings and have faith that they’re exactly where they’re supposed to be.”

Broomall said an accepting community is critical for growth and moving forward. She said the company also recognizes the unique needs of the recently released and offers resource programs to help with employment. “For those who have had nearly everything about their daily lives managed by others, routine is important,” Broomall said. Residents have a chore schedule, and basic rules are meant to help everyone get along. “We’re offering a safe place to exercise their new freedoms while learning how to navigate a new reality in today’s outside world.”

To learn more or to apply for sober supportive living, go to

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter