LEWISTON — The Center for Wisdom’s Women has been awarded a $500,000 affordable housing grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston for its $1.5 million Sophia’s House project, according to a news release.

The center was the only recipient in the Lewiston-Auburn area and one of 12 in Maine.

The project involves renovating the former convent at 143 Blake St. to create 11 affordable housing units, including six for women in the recovery program and five for women who live on fixed incomes. The renovations are estimated to take one year. The center is actively working to secure additional support through grants, historic preservation tax credits and individual donations.

Built in 1913 for the Sisters of Notre Dame, the convent selected for Sophia’s House has been empty for more than 10 years. St. Mary’s Health System donated the building for the project and Norway Savings Bank partnered with the center on the grant application.

Upon its opening, Sophia’s House will serve as a long-term, community-based residential recovery program for women who are survivors of addiction, incarceration and trafficking. The planned program continues for two years and is modeled on Thistle Farms in Nashville, Tennessee, a program that has a 20-year history of success.

Maine’s opioid epidemic and rising rates of trafficking and incarceration make this project critical, according to Executive Director Klara Tammany. Between 2012 and 2014, Androscoggin County had the highest yearly rate of primary treatment admissions related to heroin and morphine, according to the 2015 State Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup special report.

The Maine Human Trafficking Needs Assessment has also identified major gaps in housing, residential treatment and after-hours support capacity for survivors.

The center has received a lead gift toward a capital campaign from the Sisters of Charity of St. Hyacinth and will soon launch the public phase of the campaign. Renovations will begin once a majority of remaining funds are raised and a construction company chosen.

The center hopes to open Sophia’s House by the end of 2019, the 25th anniversary of the founding of the center by the Daughters of Wisdom.

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