Newark’s Integrity House continues to lay foundations for addicts

By Seth Augenstein/The Star-Ledger
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on April 23, 2014

Integrity House's new recovery house for men - the agency's tenth building around Lincoln Park, off Broad Street - was opened officially today.


NEWARK — As thousands of people streamed out of Newark after the riots of ‘67, two men headed the other way, into the heart of the city.

Richard Grossklaus and David Kerr founded Integrity House in 1968, setting up their refuge and treatment center for addicts around Lincoln Park.

Some 45 years later, the agency has expanded to 10 buildings around the triangular park off Broad Street, with the addition of another building unveiled today – and dedicated to Grossklaus, described as the "spiritual center" of the group.

The new recovery house at 49 Lincoln Park is a clean, bright, and refurbished brownstone with 40 beds for men on their way to recovery from addiction – but who still need a safe and sober refuge before heading out on their own, said Grossklaus.

It wasn’t always easy for Integrity House. The area was “pretty much a demilitarized zone” around Lincoln Park as the center began its mission, said Jim McGreevey, the former governor and current Integrity House volunteer, who attended today's events. Grossklaus was mugged about a dozen times, Kerr about a half-dozen times as gangs roamed the turf around Lincoln Park in the 1970s and 1980s, Kerr said.

“Integrity House has come a long way since its founding,” Grossklaus said.

The agency continued to grow around Lincoln Park, with properties cheap and available, Kerr said. The program never really stopped expanding — first to sites in Newark, and eventually to Secaucus and the Hudson County Jail. So far, more than 50,000 addicts have sought and received help from the agency, Kerr estimates.

The $700,000 renovations at number 49 were paid for by a public, private and non-profit partnership, officials said. Roughly $350,000 came from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, and another $150,000 came from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, said Anthony Marchetta, the executive director of the latter agency. The remainder came from the city, the state, and a handful of private agencies.

McGreevey said such facilities are going to be vital for improving the state’s growing cities - especially with the vicious cycle of drug addiction.

“Transitional housing is so important,” the former governor, who works with inmates in the Hudson County Jail, said. “It’s about stabilizing lives.”

Bags are already stowed, and people are already continuing their lives a day at a time in the new living space at 49 Lincoln Park. James, a 52-year-old man who’s already moved in, said he had several abortive stints at other recovery facilities – but Integrity House is the place where he’s finally faced down his demons, he said today at the dedication.

“Each and every day I tell my addiction it’s not going to win today. I live and breathe recovery,” said James. “This is a godsend to me.”

“It is my hope that the men who live in this house get their lives back on track,” Grossklaus added.

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