On July 17, the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals approved a zone permit required for Samantha Bates, of Austin, to operate Emma’s House — a shelter for women recovering from drug addiction. The shelter is named after Ald. Emma Mitts (37th), a major supporter of the project.

Bates, an addiction recovery coach, said during the July 17 zoning board meeting that many West Side women who go through rehab don’t have a place in their community where they can avoid temptations and harmful influences while recovering.

“I’m a recovery coach, and I want to help remove personal and environmental obstacles [to] recovery,” Bates told the board. “I’m well aware of what’s going on in our community and I’m well aware that this issue needs to be addressed. Most women [who] are addicted to drugs and are substance [abusers] don’t have a place to go.”

Bates said the recovery house, a three-story building at 322 N. Latrobe Ave. in Austin, will accommodate up to 17 women. She added that at the facility will implement safety protocols, including providing masks and hand sanitizer.

Transitional living facilities like Emma’s House aren’t addiction treatment centers; rather, they are designed to provide support for people who have just completed rehab. Overcoming addiction is a constant process and recovering addicts are especially vulnerable at this point in their recovery, experts say.

Emma’s House is located only a few blocks west from another recovery facility for women — Gerald’s House, 176 N. LeClaire Ave.

The building that Bates acquired for her recovery house was donated to her by Melvin Bailey. Bates and her husband, Kenneth Bates, used a $165,000 loan from the Chicago Community Loan Fund to rehab the facility. Work was officially completed on the building on Sept. 28, 2019.

Bates said that she will be getting referrals from West Side healthcare providers and addiction treatment facilities. She specifically mentioned Loretto Hospital, the Above and Beyond Family Recovery Center and the Bobby E. Wright Comprehensive Behavioral Health Center, among others.

Bates said that clients at her recovery home will learn about “accountability, discipline and responsibility, and more importantly, honesty and integrity.”

Each client will get a recovery plan that Emma’s House staff will make sure they follow.

“We make sure they’re ready to come back to society,” Bates said. “We make sure that they’re going to their self-help groups [and talking to their sponsors]. We want to make sure they’re sincere in what they’re doing.”

Bates told the board that Emma’s House will have two to four staff members, with at least two of them on-site at any given time. The facility will also recruit volunteers. Each client may stay anywhere between six months to a year, she said

Igor Studenkov

Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Austin Weekly News since 2015. His work has also appeared...