Halfway House Proposed in Downtown Scranton

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There are rising concerns among some business owners in Scranton over a proposed halfway house in the downtown, but the company looking to locate there said the facility for women is desperately needed.

The long-empty factory on Wyoming Avenue in Scranton once produced things from clothing to typewriter white-out.

Officials from Redwood Recovery thought it would be the perfect place  for a project they have been trying to get off the ground, a transitional living facility, commonly known as a halfway house, for women who have recently finished drug and alcohol rehab.

"We help them with jobs, medical care, family support, educational assistance, things of that nature. Then we successfully transition them in to the community where they become working productive members of society," said Redwood Recovery C.E.O. Lawrence Rinish.

He added such a facility does not exist in northeast Pennsylvania, the closest ones are in Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

There would be 50 to 80 women and children staying here, and Redwood plans to hire up to 50 people to work there. The proposed halfway house in Scranton still needs zoning approval from the city, but the building's owner has already started clearing out the place.

"It's the perfect location for it, its vicinity to downtown, but it's still not in the location of all the little businesses. It's a little bit set aside and obviously Catholic Social Services have their building right next door," said owner Adam Guiffrida.

The proposed halfway house is on the same part of Wyoming Avenue as a few other social service agencies. Some businesses that are also on Wyoming Avenue say adding another one might be bad for business.

"Like I said, I'm not against any one of them. They're all good in some way, but to have so many in one area is detrimental to the city and to area businesses," said Paul Ezbiansky of Battaglia's Sports.

If Redwood Recovery gets zoning approval from the city, plans call for the new halfway house to be finished by the end of the year.