Como House co-owners John Larson and Dan Ventrelli run two sober living houses for men in the Como neighborhood of St. Paul, Minnesota. Both men are in recovery and were inspired to start Como House in 2010 because of their experiences as 12-step sponsors. Their goal is to help newly sober men by providing a safe and structured 12-step oriented living space for those who want to get the most out of recovery.
Accommodations and Amenities
The two Como House properties are within five blocks of each other—Danforth House and St. Albans House. Both of these homes for men are centrally located in a pretty residential neighborhood in St. Paul. Como Lake Park is a short walk away, as well as access to the bus transportation and a variety of shops, restaurants and grocery stores.
There are six bedrooms in Danforth House, three singles and three doubles. At St.Albans there are five bedrooms—three are single rooms and two are doubles. As a rule, all new residents begin by sharing a room. Those who stay in the program graduate to a single room based on seniority and their progress in recovery. Como House residents are expected to provide and prepare their own food. As far as amenities go, both houses are fully furnished and provide Wi-Fi, free laundry and cable.
Rules and Regulations
Como House residents must maintain abstinence from drugs and alcohol and work a strong 12-step program, including attending at least three off-site meetings a week, working with a sponsor and attending the weekly house meeting. Residents also demonstrate their willingness to stay sober by helping with house chores and maintaining either a full time job, school or volunteer schedule. Program fees at the Como Houses are $525 a month plus a $25 per month supply fee and a $300 sobriety deposit the first month. Those who remain sober and successfully follow the rules will be given their deposit back when they leave.
There is no formal treatment at either house, although they take turn hosting a weekly combined AA/NA meeting. Unlike some halfway houses, there is no resident manager. The two owners of Como House manage the residences and live offsite. The idea is that not having a live-in manager makes the guys more accountable to each other and builds a strong sense of community within the houses.
The small size of the two houses can provide a more intimate, caring experience for residents, as does the dedication of the owners. Como House also succeeds because of its informal group activities. Whether it’s going to meetings together, playing Xbox in the living room, pick-up basketball games or the group dinners held once a month, both houses provide residents with many laid-back fellowship opportunities.
Casual, economical and connected to the St. Paul 12-step community, Como House would be a good choice for someone who has completed primary treatment and is looking for a small, tight-knight group of guys. In spite of its relatively inexpensive fees, Como House’s MASH certification assures a level of quality that makes it an excellent pick.
1299 St Albans Street
St. Paul, MN 55117
Como House Cost: $550 (30 days). Reach Como House phone at (651) 270-5239 or by email.
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Photo courtesy of ComoHouse