Vacant lot becomes a future site of hope for drug addicts

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - New life will soon come to the old Bohn Motor Company building. It'll be the site for the new Odyssey House, a $17 million project that's expected to be a state-of-the-art facility.

"So, we'll have about 147 beds here, about 100 beds for the 28-day in-patient program, and downstairs will have a federal funded health care center and medical clinic for the community as well as for our clients," said Odyssey House CEO Ed Carlson.

With a  growing opioid epidemic facing our nation, this facility could not have come at a better time. Some of the current Odyssey House buildings were built in 1866 and flooded most recently during the 2017 August downpour.

"They're beautiful old buildings, but they are falling apart completely," Carlson said.

Carlson said right now there are only 18 detox beds available, and every morning people are lining up outside for a bed. The new facility will have 47 medical detox beds available.

"As we are combating addiction as it relates to violent crime, we can't combat it without providing our people with basic services and that's where Odyssey House comes in," said Mayor-Elect Latoya Cantrell.

"And then, this will help to be able to expand and more than double our services," Carlson said.

After detoxing, patients will be able to move on to the 28-day program in the same building. That is not the case right now.

"We are losing people all the time, so the more continuous the care, the  better the chance of better outcomes and better services," said Carlson.

"This opioid crisis is just the latest in a history of huge challenges that we've had in substance abuse and addictive behaviors. It's one that is really literally tearing the life out of communities across America," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

Carlson said Odyssey House is known to take patients that others won't.

"Our philosophy is if we can't treat them, there's no one in the state that can because we take people who were diagnosed with mental illnesses, physical and emotional problems, and we'll be able to provide treatment to them," Carlson said.

While Carlson said the new facility is so badly needed, he agrees that even more needs to be done.

"Well, it is very serious. We really need about three times the amount of treatment then we currently have available in the state," said Carlson.