Sober living houses under new management

ALAMOSA — Under new management and with a new name, the Potter’s House is a place where new lives — and hope — are created.

The sober and transitional living complex of two houses in Alamosa provides temporary housing for women coming out of addiction, incarceration, abusive relationships and homelessness.

Program Manager Ramona Smith took over the operation the last part of February, and neither she nor her sister, who serves as house manager, are receiving any salary while they try to re-establish the sober living houses.

One of the houses sleeps six and the other four. Just for women, the houses provide emergency placement, sober living, probation and parole and transitional housing. Most of the women are single, but there are a couple of rooms that could accommodate women with children in temporary placement.

Rooms are named after women from the Bible such as Rahab, Mary Magdalene, Ruth, Elizabeth, Naomi and Sarah, some of whom like the women who inhabit the rooms needed a second chance and a fresh start.

Potter’s House works with probation and parole departments, social services and other agencies for referrals and placement, Smith explained. For some of the women, this is a step forward from homelessness.

“It’s until they get on their feet,” Smith explained. “We coordinate with resources that can help them get on their feet. We encourage them to get back to independence. It’s a holistic approach.”

She added, “If you are serious about the program, it empowers you to become independent again.”

Residents must sign contracts and abide by house rules, which include no alcohol or drugs, curfew (at least for the first 30 days), no overnight guests, counseling either at the Potter’s House or elsewhere and efforts to improve their lives, such as seeking jobs.

“The contract is designed to give them the best opportunity for success,” Smith explained, “to give them guidance, the best opportunity for success to achieve their goals.”

Residents transition into the workforce, share in household chores and generally pool their resources for meals. They pay $75 a week or $300 a month, utilities included. Probation and parole pay for initial placement of their clients, but otherwise the Potter’s House has no other financial backing, Smith explained.

Smith is a registered psychotherapist and provides group and individual counseling on site as well as operating a private practice in Alamosa. She is working towards her LPC (licensed professional counselor) and licensed clinical pastoral counseling. A licensed pastor, she belongs to the National Christian Counseling Association.

“I have always wanted to do something like this to help women,” Smith said. She added that there are is not much transitional housing available for women in the San Luis Valley so believes the Potter’s House fills an urgent need.

Smith said the sober living homes had been in operation for about five years, but she took over in February, changed the name and is hoping to improve both the reputation and appearances of the houses, which were in disrepair. She has added coats of paint and carpet, replaced beds and performed some other remodeling.

Although the Potter’s House recently received donations of towels, it could use bedding linens (sheets, blankets) for residents. A used vehicle would also be helpful for transportation, and the houses need new stoves. Grant assistance for funds to purchase the property would also be appreciated, and cash donations are always welcome, although Smith has not yet had the money to obtain 501c3 tax-exempt status yet.

Donations may be made at 315 State Avenue, Suite 102, Alamosa 81101.

Smith runs the Potter’s House as a nonprofit with no one on salary. She is not paid, and her sister is not paid, only provided a place to live.

“Every bit of money that comes in goes into it,” Smith said.

“We are here to empower women who are serious about becoming independent, productive citizens,” she said. “That’s what we are here for, and that’s our mission. We are serious about what we are doing. There are a lot of hurting women who come through here.”

Caption: Program Manager Ramona Smith stands in front of one of the houses comprising the Potter’s House sober and transitional living complex in Alamosa./Courier photo by Ruth Heide