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New rehab center for Bay Area First Step approved by Coos Bay council

180627 Bay Area First Step approved 3.jpg

COOS BAY, Ore. -- After the planning commission denied it, the Coos Bay City Council approved the renovation of the Empire Pacific Motel into a new rehab center for Bay Area First Step.

Right now, it's a hotel on the corner of Coos Bay and Charleston, but soon it'll be the newest acquired rehabilitation center for Bay Area First Step - a project the hotel owner and the organization have been waiting for.

"It's a huge need," said Patty Sanden with the Bay Area First Step. "We probably turn away 3-out-of-4 people that are looking for drug and alcohol-free housing."

They've been working towards this for almost seven years, and the motel is desirable because of how many people it's able to house.

Bay Area First Step's attorney says that the original denial was against the Fair Housing Act, and judged on the characteristics of drug and alcohol abuse patients.

Mayor Joe Benetti says that, legally, they had to approve it since these people are considered disabled, struggling with an addiction.

"With the statistics that were given, this will help detour substance abuse of drugs and alcohol," said Mayor Benetti. "Ignoring it and turning a blind eye is not the way to go, in my opinion, and so, as a community, I think we need to be there for them."

Sanden says that over the course of three years, they've had a 96 percent success rate.

It might take a little over a year before the full transition, but he owner says he doesn't plan to evict any of the current tenants. As people move out, they'll move a Bay Area First Step client in.

For tenants that are not one of their clients, Bay Area First Step is willing to help them find resources for other housing.

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