Healing Place to lease more land on Dix campus

kpoe@newsobserver.comDecember 4, 2012 

The Dorothea Dix Hospital campus covers 335 acres.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER

— On the same day that state officials agreed to lease the Dorothea Dix campus to Raleigh for a public park, it also voted to expand the amount of land at Dix that it leases to a shelter that works with homeless men with substance abuse problems.

The Healing Place of Wake County has leased more than 4 acres of Dix property off Lake Wheeler Road since 1999 and built a men’s shelter there.

On Tuesday, the Council of State agreed to lease an additional 6.1 acres behind the shelter to accommodate future expansion.

“We’re completely filled at the men’s center,” said Healing Place President and CEO Dennis Parnell. “If we operate at 80 percent capacity that’s ideal, because there’s some flexibility in the beds. But right now, we don’t have any of that. We’re up to 100 percent every night.”

The Healing Place operates an emergency shelter, a detoxification center and shelter for people enrolled in recovery and transition programs, and has 180 beds. It doesn’t turn away homeless people who arrive intoxicated.

More services for homeless

Having more than 10 acres at Dix would allow the Healing Place to build as many as four additional buildings, Parnell said.

“We’ve always kind of had our eyes on that property behind us, and now’s a good time to get it done,” he said. “Who knows what’s going to happen to the Dix property, but we need to make sure the Healing Place is going to be here to serve the community deep into the future.”

Most of the new buildings would expand current services, especially giving the shelter the capacity to operate as an emergency shelter, but would also add outpatient treatment, Parnell said.

The number of homeless in Wake County has remained about 1,140 since 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s annual homeless point-in-time count. But the number of homeless people with substance abuse problems has grown from 357 in 2008 to 466 people this year, according to the count.

About 70 percent of graduates from the Healing Place’s programs are sober a year later, according to shelter data.

The Healing Place also operates a 99-bed women’s shelter on Glen Royal Road and has adequate beds and space for demand, Parnell said. Because it owns the women’s shelter property, there is room for expansion.

Poe: 919-829-4563

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