For decades, it served as the office building for various owners of the sprawling steel plant in Claymont. Within a few months, the building atop a hill that overlooks the abandoned plant will serve as a residential treatment facility for recovering substance abusers.
Elected officials and addiction specialists took part in a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday at Gaudenzia's future facility. It will contain a total of 26 beds. Some will be reserved for men and women with severe and persistent mental health issues caused by their addictions. Also, a sober living housing program will service single parents with young children.
"Usually, clients that are in this facility would be here up to about 90 days," Gaudenzia President and CEO Michael Harle said. Gaudenzia already provides outpatient services through the Claymont Community Center and works in Wilmington and in downstate Delaware.
Surrounding the northern Claymont area, according to Delaware State Police figures from 2015, are some neighborhoods with the highest rates of heroin-related incidents in the entire state.
Creating the space is only part of the struggle, according to State Senator Stephanie Hansen, D- Middletown.
"It doesn't do you any good to build bed after bed after bed if you can't get coverage and keep them filled with the people that we know need to be here," Hansen said.
"We fight a lot with different insurers to make sure that they stay long enough so they don't come back," Harle said. He added that the facility will be staffed around the clock and that safety has not been a concern at all with other operations of its type.
Construction is expected to be completed within six to nine months.