People are dying’: Nonprofit Hopes to Open New Rehab Center Despite Backlash

People are dying Nonprofit Hopes to Open New Rehab Center Despite Backlash Info
The McNabb Center, a Knoxville-based nonprofit focused on mental health and substance abuse services, hopes to open a new residential treatment facility in South Knoxville despite facing opposition from some neighbors.

The center planned to open a 48-bed facility providing medical detox and residential addiction treatment at the site of a former hotel. However, after facing backlash from some neighbors concerned about the center’s impact on the community, the McNabb Center’s board voted Tuesday to halt the project until they can address neighbors’ concerns.

“This is a life or death situation. People are dying from overdoses in our community every single day,” McNabb Center CEO Jerry Vagnier said at a community meeting, according to WBIR. “All we’re trying to do is provide hope and healing for people suffering from substance abuse disorder.”

The South Knoxville site was chosen due to its suitable size and layout for a residential treatment facility, Vagnier said. The center had planned to invest $7 million in renovating the site.

Those opposed to the center worried about the impact on neighborhood safety and property values, according to WBIR. In response, the McNabb Center had planned to implement 24-hour security, regular patrols and good neighbor agreements to alleviate concerns.

The opioid crisis continues to devastate communities across the U.S., with the CDC reporting more than 81,000 overdose deaths in 2022. The McNabb Center aims to be part of the solution through treatment and recovery services.

“The need is huge, and the McNabb Center is trying to step up and meet this need. But we want to do it in a responsible, sensitive way,” Vagnier said. The center will continue working with neighbors and local government officials on plans for the South Knoxville site or alternative options to expand treatment in the area.

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