Nestled in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley in Panorama City, California, Soberspace, a sober living home for men, is owned by Mark Hillman, who arrived at the house in 2008 as a client. In 2009, he became a residential manager, and found that the house needed more discipline. Eventually, he took over, and Soberspace has thrived, becoming a highly structured sober living that is a member of the Los Angeles County Sober Living Coalition. Hillman does not believe in a “cookie cutter” approach. He takes each client under his wing, and helps them create an individualized recovery protocol to fit their needs.
Accommodations and Amenities
The huge seven-bedroom, four-bathroom house has a 21-bed capacity. The exterior includes a landscaped garden furnished with exercise equipment, weights, a paved pathway, trees and a covered patio. White fencing, which includes a security gate, surrounds the property and there is ample parking.
The interior boasts a large living room with an abundant number of couches, armchairs and a large flat screen TV. Large vertical windows provide natural sunlight. A small Chihuahua is often seen in the living area, nestled on a comfy brown couch. There are three quadruple-occupancy rooms, and one six-man room furnished with bunk beds. There is one single, which accommodates Hillman, and a double, which lodges another house manager and one assistant manager.
Clients are responsible for their own groceries, which are prepared in a large fully equipped kitchen which includes granite countertops, wooden cabinets, a large microwave oven, an industrial size coffeepot, state-of-the-art appliances and a kitchen island surrounded by chairs. The stove includes six burners. Sometimes Hillman helps clients with food. No one goes hungry at Soberspace. Amenities include Wi-Fi, cable and fresh linens. The laundry room includes two washers and two dryers.
Rules and Regulations
Hillman does not take clients with severe mental health disorders, nor does he admit criminal justice clients who are sex offenders, or those who have violent criminal records. The selection process starts with a phone screening conducted by Hillman. Most applicants don’t make it past that point. Soberspace believes in offering a firm foundation for a sober life and clients must demonstrate a strong desire to maintain ongoing recovery, as well as work on their lives.
The men must have 30 days of verified sobriety, and once admitted, Hillman works with them, to create an individualized recovery protocol. He does not dictate clients to attend a certain number of 12-step meetings, with the belief that those in early recovery can’t be corralled like cows to go to AA/NA. Often men attend 12-step meetings on a regular basis, but those opting for alternatives, including SMART Recovery, or going to church, are encouraged to do so. Personally, Hillman opts for a 12-step recovery protocol, with the belief that “it works if you work it.”
The curfew is 11:30 pm Sundays through Thursdays, and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. At Soberspace, clients are also taught responsibility. They have to get jobs, volunteer, attend outpatient treatment or go to school.
The 30-day cost is $600, but a small number of limited scholarships are granted to financially challenged clients who are eager to work a program of recovery.
Hillman is old school AA, and is very in tune with the principles of the fellowship. He goes above and beyond helping clients, and will even give them the shirt off his back. Hillman has transformed Soberspace into a safe and structured house that really focuses on the real meaning of AA, which is to be of service to others who need help, provided that they are willing to help themselves.
14417 Burton St
Panorama City, CA 91402
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