Clean and Sober Housing Under Scrutiny in Port Orchard

Since 1989, Agape Unlimited of Bremerton, a treatment program for substance abuse, has operated a clean and sober apartment complex without incident in downtown Port Orchard. The place houses up to six women and their children in transition and in recovery (subject to strict rules and regular urinalysis). Mayor Lary Coppola, who checked with the city’s police department, said there have been no reports of problems at the house.

Now, however, Agape wants to start a new program to help women of children affected by substance abuse during pregnancy. The program, funded in part by a grant from the University of Washington, will start Sept. 1 in the downstairs of the building that Agape owns on Bay Street. The mayor and merchants don’t think it’s the right place for a shop-front social service agency. There’s the risk clients will visit one of the several bars in the downtown area, Coppola and others say. And it will put a damper on the “family friendly” atmosphere city officials and the merchants have been trying to promote.

Coppola, whose step-daughter has had problems with substance abuse, was candid on his stance.

“I understand the need for clean and sober houses,” said Coppola, who with his wife Dee has custody of his stepdaughter’s son. “As someone that’s raising a four-year-old because of the need for them, I have a real unique understanding of that.”

But …

“We just worked real hard to get the crime rate down in downtown,” said Coppola. “We’re trying to make it family friendly … this feels like a step backwards.

“I have no problem having one in Port Orchard,” he said. “I have a problem having it in the middle of Bay Street.”

Barbara Day Max, executive director, said Agape is used to addressing the concerns of clean and sober housing neighbors. Her organization owns three such residences and subleases 22 additional units. She defended her organization’s mission and said its services contribute to public safety and save taxpayers money in the long run.

A story on the proposed program will run tomorrow at

In related news, Port Orchard officials have been looking into complaints about a clean and sober house operated by Cascade Recovery Programs on Anderson Avenue in a residential neighborhood. “Heidi
House” is home to eight women who say they just want to straighten out their lives.
“It’s just really good strong support for staying clean and sober,” said resident Helen Bergstrom.
City code allows up to eight unrelated individuals to occupy a single-family residence. The house does need to upgrade its sprinkler system, and the owners are working with city staff to amend the problem, said Kathy Woodside of code enforcement.
Rick Bialock of Cascade has offered to meet with neighbors about their concerns. Bialock and residents of the house are expected to testify before the city council Tuesday, Coppola said.

2 thoughts on “Clean and Sober Housing Under Scrutiny in Port Orchard

  1. OK. First off, I don’t drink. Second, I have served on the boards of several of the service agencies, like St. Vincent de Paul, in the past.

    Those things said, I agree with Mayor Coppola. Downtown is no place for a storefront agency. In fact, let’s be really honest. The other agencies – St. Vincent de Paul, KCR and Helpline – don’t really belong along the waterfront either.

    It’s time to get serious about the chanvgges we need to make in Port Orchard. It’s time to really focus on making it a retail destination, not a place to come and pick up your WIC checks, or gas voucher, as important as those things are for people.

    Let’s look into siting the service agencies in another location. You don’t see them in downtown Poulsbo, along the waterfront, or in Old Towne Silverdale. Why should Port Orchard’s beautiful waterfront be used for those purposes?

  2. Mary Colborn,
    Sounds like ,your perfect, living in a PERFECT WORLD, Port orchard is no place for WELFAIR recipients, WIC, better yet Drug Addicts. Where would YOU put those offices? Let me Guess? maybee somewhere off the buss line and out in the boonies so you PERFECT people wouldnt have to deal with “those” types!!! Let me tell you something maybee if you put 1/2 the amount of time and energy you spend on being a hipicritical, Poppas ass into actualy helping these women and there children you/we could Eliminate the problem before it starts, hints the CHILDREN that would grow up to BREAK the cycle. You have NO CLUE. Good thing you live in a perfect world!!! After all there are NO additcs in Port Orchard already RITE….

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