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DeKalb County prepares Sycamore residence to be sober living home

SYCAMORE – Scot Lohr of DeKalb said he’s using his community service hours toward something that he hopes will have a significant impact on the community.

On Monday afternoon, Lohr was repainting the interior of 491 E. State St., Sycamore, the residential home that is now getting a makeover. By the end of the summer, the property will reopen as the county’s all-male sober living home for those who have gone through the drug court system.

“The people who go through this house will be a good resource for the rest of the community,” said Lohr, who was one of 10 people arrested during a drug sweep in August. “It’s an investment in the community that will pay dividends that people don’t realize yet.”

The property was previously a two-unit home with private entrances outside. The most prominent renovation will be removing a dividing wall to create access to the staircase from both floors from the inside, according to Mike Douglas, coordinator for the county’s Drug and DUI Court.

Renovations will cost about $5,000, plus an additional $15,000 for a sprinkler system, Douglas said.

“We’re just getting started,” Douglas said. “It’s mostly just painting. We do have a bit more work to do.”

The house consists of two stories plus a basement. It has four bedrooms, two full baths and a full kitchen on each floor. Seven recovering addicts, all men, and one in-house manager will live in the house. The seven tenants will be expected to hold jobs to pay rent, and will have regular house chores. Tenants are subject to random drug tests and scheduled therapy sessions.

“It’s going to be pretty similar to anyone living in their own home,” Drug and DUI Court Probation Officer Serena Frost said. “They’re each going to have chores, usually assigned chores. They will be checking in with the house manager, probably daily.”

The sober living home doesn’t have any scheduled tenants yet, but when it does, it will be their responsibility to come up with an official name for the house, Douglas said.

He said he’s not worried about finding tenants because “there’s enough of a need we could fill the house tomorrow if we had to.”

The city and the county went back-and-forth with each other over the use of the property. The county wanted the property because of its proximity to the courthouse, but city officials contested taking the property off the tax roll.

Eventually, the Sycamore City Council approved the special use permit in May’s 7-1 vote.

“It was a pretty long process,” Douglas said. “Now that we actually have the home, we’re just now doing some touching-up, mostly cosmetic work, to get the home in a little bit better shape.”

Douglas said it’s a “prime house” to operate a sober living facility.

“It’s a great location in relation to the courthouse,” he said. “It was really important to have it in the community. The population we serve is DeKalb County, so it was important for us to have it in DeKalb County.”

Frost said the proximity to the courthouse is key.

“It makes it really convenient for me to walk over during the middle of the day and see what’s going on,” she said. “It keeps us very in touch with each other.”

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