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Serenity House

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Austin TexasThe Basics

Founded in 2011 by community activist Lisa Russell-Fife, Serenity House in Austin, Texas, provides affordable sober living for women. The house is located northwest of downtown Austin in the Windsor Hills neighborhood, less than a mile from public transportation and close to the Interstate 35.

Accommodations and Amenities

Serenity House occupies both sides of a duplex building. Five women are accommodated in each unit. Clients are paired in rooms, which include twin beds topped with colorful comforters, nightstands, dressers, and small decorative lamp. Amenities include all utilities, laundry facilities, house computers and Hi-Speed Internet. The house provides laundry soap, light bulbs, paper and cleaning supplies.

The women are responsible for their own groceries, which are prepared in a fully equipped country-style kitchen. The kitchen includes a large coffeepot, microwave oven and a toaster oven set on a counter. Adjacent to the kitchen is a quaint dining nook, and a door, which leads out to a private backyard that has a covered patio. Smoking is permitted in designated areas. Parking is available on-site on a seniority basis, but there is also ample street parking.

Rules and Regulations

Serenity House has a strict of rules. Potential clients must have undergone detox. Additionally, a strong desire to work a 12-step program is additional criteria for admittance. At Serenity House, clients are subject to random drug and alcohol testing. The facility practices a zero tolerance policy. Relapsed clients must leave the premises immediately and they have five days to gather their personal belongings. Clients who witness use of drugs or alcohol, and who fail to inform the house manager are also subject to immediate termination.

During the first 30 days, clients must attend a minimum of five weekly 12-step meetings. After that time, a minimum of three AA/NA/CA meetings is required, and clients must have obtained a sponsor and be actively working their steps. Those who violate this rule are subject to immediate eviction. Other requirements include obtaining gainful employment or attending school. Community service is also considered a permissible activity for those who have a steady source of income.

Clients are expected to perform household chores, be at house meetings, sign in and sign out when entering or leaving the house, and make sure that they are out of bed first thing in the morning. No one is allowed to sleep in, unless they are sick. The curfew is 11 pm Sundays through Thursdays, and midnight on Saturdays and Sundays. Other forbidden behaviors include lighting incense or candles, stealing, loud noise, gossip, and general negativity.

At Serenity House, anonymity is highly enforced for the safety of the women. When answering the phone, clients are not allowed to reveal the whereabouts of a fellow housemate or even confirm that the client lives there. The 30-day cost is $550 or $150 per week, not including a $150 move-in fee.

Extras

At Serenity House, the women develop a strong peer support network, and hold each other accountable.

In Summary

Russell-Fife runs a tight ship, but she is a godsend to women who are seeking a 12-step lifestyle and new to sobriety. Besides being the house manager, Russell-Fife is a recovery coach and is in tune with newly clean and sober women, and the gamut of dark emotions that they might be experiencing. Serenity House provides a highly structured, affordable home for women who are eager to go to any lengths to stay clean and sober.

Serenity House
9810 Dallum Dr #B
Austin, TX 78753-4312

Serenity House Cost: $600 (30 days). Reach Serenity House by phone at (512) 848-8929 or by email at [email protected]

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Photo courtesy of Larry D. Moore [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (https://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons)

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