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West Valley City Journal

House of Hope provides a home and hope for women in need

Jul 07, 2023 12:46PM ● By Ella Joy Olsen

The House of Hope Amaryllis facility is located in a historic South Temple mansion. (Photo courtesy of House of Hope)

At times it can feel like the unhoused population is growing faster than housing can keep up, but the Salt Lake County Division of Behavioral Health Services works very diligently to provide a network of care focused on helping individuals and communities in need. 

The division’s fiscal year 2024 plan was recently presented to the Salt Lake County Council, where the council considered current and future programming and housing. 

“Housing is healthcare,” said Jeannie Edens, associate director at Behavioral Health Services. “In an evaluation comparing patients who were receiving the same treatment, we saw a decrease in recidivism in those [individuals] that were housed. But for those who were unhoused, we actually saw an increase in recidivism in our jails. We know how critical housing is to help these folks.” 

There are scattered (and many) housing facilities located throughout the county, situated to minimize the impact on any one neighborhood, and several new facilities are coming online this year to help house vulnerable populations, populations comprised of individuals affected by mental health issues, substance abuse issues or a combination of the both. 

One of the most recent additions to the stock of housing is the Amaryllis House, one location of House of Hope, a nonprofit which operates eight facilities, seven in SLC and one in Provo. Amaryllis is a sober-living recovery house for up to 14 women who’ve completed substance abuse treatment, and who need help transitioning back into productive society. 

“It is named for the amaryllis flower which grows from a bulb containing everything needed to bloom. With just a little nurturing from people, this house serves women who are in a position to rebuild their lives,” said Lisa Heaton, executive director of House of Hope. 

The mansion was built in 1898, and served as a private home for the Walter C. and Alice Lyne family (drugstore owners and wool brokers) and their descendants until 1941. It served as a boarding house for the First Step House program for men for two decades and an optometrist’s office before being abandoned in the late 1970s. In 1981, it was renovated into the Brigham Street Inn and then used as a facility of Ronald McDonald House Charities, providing housing for sick children and their families. 

Within the refurbished historic walls of the Amaryllis, there are house rules, a curfew and wraparound services to help with the transition. The care utilizes compassion and peer-based support. Many of the women are employed, going about their daily business, simply calling Amaryllis their home. 

Though the first few months of rent are prepaid to give each woman time to start working and saving money, eventually they will pay part of the rent, which will increase each month. Residents will likely live in the facility six months or more, and eventually, once licensing is secured, the Amaryllis will allow children up to age 8 to live with their mothers in residence. 

Founded in 1946 and formerly known as The Utah Alcoholism Foundation (UAF), House of Hope is the oldest provider of alcohol and chemical dependency treatment services in Utah providing a continuum of residential, day treatment, outpatient, and aftercare services throughout the state. House of Hope is just one of many residential sober-living providers located in the state, and the Amaryllis house, just one location. 

“It is important to stratify [housing] across the system, rather in one center block, which can be hard to manage for the community,” said Seth Teague, performance and data analyst with Behavioral Health Services. 

As such, there thousands of beds serving a variety of behavioral health patients statewide, which includes over 300 units of sober-living in Salt Lake County, units like those found at the Amaryllis. λ