Days may be numbered for longtime local halfway house

Posted: February 2, 2013

The Winchester Star

Eddie Cassidy, director of the Lord Fairfax House at 512 S. Braddock St. in Winchester, poses for a portrait in its kitchen. Cassidy said the facility could be forced to close this year due to a funding shortfall. (Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)
Lord Fairfax House director Eddie Cassidy (left) talks with client Chris B. in the facility.

WINCHESTER — A local halfway house that assists people suffering from substance abuse and addiction problems may have to close due to money problems.

The Lord Fairfax House, operated by the nonprofit Council on Alcoholism Lord Fairfax Community Inc., has been at 512 S. Braddock St. since 1984, according to director Eddie Cassidy.

The house could be forced to close at the end of April if it cannot secure additional funding, he said Friday.

“I’ve been doing this for 26 years, and this is the toughest it’s ever been,” Cassidy said of the financial issues.

“There’s a possibility we don’t meet our budget. We’ve cut everything that we can; we’ve cut salaries and food costs. We have a tight-knit budget and we’re barely making ends meet.”

The house’s annual budget is $138,000, of which about $94,000 comes from Northwestern Community Services in Front Royal. It costs about $6,000 to house one person for the facility’s 90-day treatment program, Cassidy said.

The funding shortfall is a result of declining donations from private individuals and organizations such as the United Way in recent years due to tough economic times, he said.

“I think people are more inclined to give to people suffering from cancer or domestic violence,” he said. “[Some people] think people suffering from substance abuse should just be able to stop on their own ... [but] substance abuse affects all areas of the community, from domestic violence to people going to Winchester Medical Center to the police department. It doesn’t matter if you’re from Yale or jail, if you have this disease, you have it.”

The Council on Alcoholism was able to raise about $5,000 for the house at a recent fundraiser, and it has used letter-writing campaigns and golf tournaments to raise money in the past. Since the Council on Alcoholism is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, donations are tax-deductible, Cassidy said.

Joe Shtulman, president of the United Way of Northern Shenandoah Valley, said Friday that the organization has had to change the way it approves funding requests from outside agencies due to its own difficulties in soliciting donations.

“We always have a much larger request for funds than we have funds available,” said Shtulman, who added that the United Way appreciates all donations it receives.

Lord Fairfax House is an eight-bed halfway house that helps recovering alcoholics and substance users. Six men and two women are now at the house, which is staffed around the clock every day, Cassidy said.

“The requirement to get in is motivation of wanting to stay clean and sober,” he said. “We help them find employment so they’ll become an asset in the community instead of a liability. We’re trying to create a better environment in the area for these individuals.”

Information about donating to the Lord Fairfax House is available by emailing calfc@comcast.net, calling 540-662-8877 or by visiting lordfairfaxhouse.com.

— Contact Matt Armstrong atmarmstrong@winchesterstar.com