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News / Clark County News

Nonprofit overseeing housing at former Value Motel seeks $130,000 from Clark County for amenities

Lumen Fidelis asked the council for funds to improve Recovery Hotel, formerly Kasper Recovery Housing

By Mia Ryder-Marks, Columbian staff reporter
Published: June 14, 2024, 6:02am

The nonprofit that now oversees recovery housing at the former Value Motel in Hazel Dell is asking the Clark County Council to consider $130,000 in funding to improve the site.

Lumen Fidelis operates what used to be Kasper Recovery Housing. The motel’s property is now home to Safe Haven Sober Living Community Project, also referred to as Recovery Hotel. The funding will help the nonprofit secure a mobile facility with laundry and kitchen amenities.

The funding streams from House Bill 1406, which went into effect in 2019 and allows local jurisdictions to financially support the development of affordable and supportive housing. The council previously granted $670,000 to the Vancouver Housing Authority for a Battle Ground development.

Lumen Fidelis’ founder, Chris Thobaben, said the mobile facility is one way the nonprofit aims to make the motel property feel like a long-term home for residents.

“Our residents come from all different backgrounds, all different experiences, and we want to make it so that they can all see hemselves living there and see themselves in how well it’s maintained,” said Thobaben, who is also a volunteer board member for Community Roots Collaborative.

Recovery home

Thobaben’s nonprofit took over the recovery housing in September when Kasper Recovery’s lease ended. Currently, Kasper Recovery’s founder, James Kasper, is suing the landowners, alleging they broke their promise to sell him the property. Kasper said he spent more than $1.5 million renovating the former motel.

In late August, Thobaben heard of the situation happening at the motel property and the roughly 30 residents who may be displaced. Thobaben said he tried to find a community partner willing to manage the property, but no one wanted to do it.

Thobaben formed Lumen Fidelis on Aug. 26. Six days later, the nonprofit took over the site and contracted with local housing and recovery agencies to provide services and management. Currently, 78 residents live at Recovery Hotel.

The nonprofit went to the county council in December to ask for the funding for proposed renovations to the motel site, including maintenance improvements and adding an on-site laundry facility and kitchen area. Thobaben said the funding is essential to improving the conditions of the property.

But the county wanted assurance that the nonprofit had at least a five-year lease for the property, which it does not, Thobaben said.

Lumen Fidelis then returned to the council and proposed a mobile facility purchased from Wolf Industries that would include the laundry, kitchen and dining amenities. In the event of a lease termination, the unit could be relocated to another site.

“We have no intention of moving in the next five years,” Thobaben said. “But if we needed to, we could.”

Thobaben said the mobile facility will address residents’ needs. He said some residents are spending nearly $30 a month to do their laundry off site. The rooms at the property also do not offer kitchens, and many residents rely on microwavable food or fast food.

A March study by Nutrition in Recovery said nutrition plays a critical role in sustaining addiction recovery. Poor nutrition contributes to anxiety and depression, which are common obstacles for people in recovery.

Thobaben wants Recovery Hotel to provide residents with the essentials they need to sustain their recovery.

“They can gain some stability and some regular habits that are healthier. … It will set them up for success when they eventually move on,” Thobaben said.

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The county council approved the proposal. After Lumen Fidelis and county officials sign an updated contract, the nonprofit will receive the grant for the mobile facility.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the status of the grant.

Community Funded Journalism logo

This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.