Journey House Founder and Director Jesse Harvey, center, spends time with two current sober house residents in Biddeford. Harvey launched Journey House last December to provide basic living space necessary for men wishing to pursue recovery. ED PIERCE/Journal Tribune

Journey House Founder and Director Jesse Harvey, center, spends time with two current sober house residents in Biddeford. Harvey launched Journey House last December to provide basic living space necessary for men wishing to pursue recovery. ED PIERCE/Journal Tribune

BIDDEFORD — In the human experience, who we are and what we can achieve in life is based upon what we do with what we have. That’s a fundamental fact for the founder of a Biddeford sober house that is making a difference and changing lives in the community.

Jesse Harvey, 25, opened Journey House in an apartment house on Hill Street in December and provides basic living space necessary for men wishing to pursue recovery.

“Journey House is an inexpensive and low-barrier abstinence-based recovery residence for men,” Harvey said. “House requirements include dedicating oneself to abstinence, to working a program of recovery, to obtaining employment, and to reconnecting with society in a positive and meaningful way.”

As someone who is in recovery, Harvey knows first-hand the struggles those trying to overcome difficult and challenging circumstances have to deal with every day.

He graduated summa cum laude from King’s College in Pennsylvania, but soon after encountered difficulty with sobriety and wound up in jail.

Upon his release, Harvey spent time in treatment and then in a sober house himself, and said he believes it put him on a path to success in life. He now is employed as a community health worker in the Preble Street neighborhood of Portland, an area beset by poverty and homelessness.

“I am a person who benefited from sober living and I recognized its importance,” Harvey said. “I saved everything I could because I wanted to do some good in the community. Portland has a lot of sober houses, but York County does not.”

Finding a receptive landlord who endorsed his idea, Harvey launched Journey House with his own money and donations of household furnishings, bedding and furniture. Men are referred to the facility from shelters, detox centers and churches.

“To move in, an individual must pass an interview and a urinalysis and must have the desire for recovery and the willingness to give it their best,” Harvey said. “Scholarships are available for men who otherwise could not afford to move in.”

According to Harvey, Journey House fills a niche in Biddeford and the surrounding area that offers an affordable place to live when it’s needed the most.

“When individuals have a home and are provided with peer supports and structure, recovery is possible,” Harvey said.

Participants are required to dedicate themselves to following through on a program of recovery and connect with their housemates each day. Rent is $500 a month plus a $200 deposit for a drug test fee.

No drug or alcohol use is permitted and participants must attend at least three meetings per week and a mandatory house meeting. They also must perform a minimum of five hours of volunteer work or community service every month while living at Journey House.

Working with a program director, participants learn about available resources to help rebuild their lives such as primary care, clothing and food banks. The facility provides a place to sleep, electricity, cable, wifi and a house phone. and rent goes toward Journey House expenses.

Since its opening, 16 men have lived at Journey House and there are currently six staying there right now, with a mix of young and old, working and some looking for employment. The typical stay is three to six months.

Because of the facility’s success, Harvey is hoping to open a second Journey House in Biddeford soon and possibly a sober house for women in Biddeford. To make that happen, he’s looking for cash donations, household items or material contributions from accountants and attorneys.

For more information about Journey House, visit facebook.com/journeyhousesoberliving/ or call 774-262-5452. 

— Executive Editor Ed Pierce can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 326, or by email at [email protected]


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