LEWISTON, Maine — For people who are transitioning back into society after being in prison, or struggling with substance use disorder, it can be easy to fall back into old patterns. That's where Johnny Clark comes in.
Clark and his partner, Brandon Tobey, have three sober living homes in Augusta. Now, they're turning their attention to Lewiston.
Right now, only half of the new sober house is open, but next month, Clark expects to open the other side that will be for women.
Clark is in recovery himself. He was prescribed narcotics after a back injury when he lived in Las Vegas.
"[I] found out that I couldn't go without them, so I started buying them on the streets, started selling them," Clark said.
Now, he wants to help others. He and Tobey own A Hand Up, and they already have a number of sober living houses in Augusta.
Now, they are expanding to Lewiston, but they didn't do it alone.
"We bought the buildings in December, so we've really been trying to transform it since then," Wendi McPike said.
She and her husband Aaron own the building, and when they bought it, it was a weekly rent boarding house.
The couple said this area of town has a lot of problems, including drugs and violence. Aaron even pointed out bullet holes in the building itself.
The McPikes evicted tenants who were causing problems and then started working with Clark.
"[By] improving the building, you improve the block, and improve the neighborhood," Aaron said.
For people who are already living here, they say they want to help others.
"Seeing these people getting pulled out of bad situations, and I actually have a connection with them and understand what it is that they're going through," Eric Dodge, who already moved in, said.