What time was this today? Anyone have any additional info? Police scanner info?
Death in Ballard Commons(100 posts)
SA- According to the Real Time Fire 911 site, there was a response to 57th and 22nd Av NW at 8:31 a.m. using the 7 per rule.
There was a guy absolutely plastered yesterday afternoon who kept insisting on sitting on the skate bowl wall. He nearly fell into it several times and I watched a woman companion catch him each time. I see him in that state often, and he fits the description, although so do a few others. I wonder if the man did die on the bench, and if he was alone. How sad.
I walked by the park on my way to the gym at 8:00 am. I saw the man laying curled up, I assumed that he was just resting and trying to stay warm. Sad.
There was a woman who died last year, a man who died at the locks before that. We lose one or two of our Ballard community each year in this way. November through March can be very hard. Very sad.
He was a nice fellow, kind, with a gentle smile and always sheepishly embarrassed by his state and appearance. While my daughter has in someways made me hard and defensive even to the point of violence in philosophy and stature towards outsiders and perceived threats, her astoundingly innocent and wonderfully naive concern for everybody she meets balances me and evens my keel. Without her, Mr. Farquharson would be of no concern to me at all. Because of her, he was not only a concern, but I was concerned for him. We met because of her, and now I learn you have a son. Rest in peace, Sir.
he died around the time this community turned there backs on homelessness What a terrible shame
Yes it is sad, he was kiddie-corner to a homeless shelter at St. Luke's. I wonder why he didn't go in?
Norge, I don't know for sure about St Luke's but in most shelters now you can't just drop in. In fact, you are told to get to a location which could be downtown Seattle where you are then taken by shuttle to a shelter.
Corvus, your touching comments make me believe the man who died was not the very drunk guy I watched. He was usually quite drunk and not interactive. However, there is a sweet soul who LB likes and we have spoken from time to time. He has hair long below his shoulders and a nice smile. I hope it is not him.
The problem with the shelters is that most require that you be sober, that doesn't work for many. More harm reduction social services, like "wet houses" are needed.
So by "wet houses", I presume more "come as you are" houses. Am I the only one who thinks people should bear an equal responsibility for their upkeep? If someone truly wants to better themselves or truly wants to ensure their own survival, wouldn't they participate? If not, why should taxpayers help them when they don't feel the need to help themselves. I realize there are people all kinds of f'd up but that's their doing and it isn't my responsibility.
teigyr, I "presume" that misslydia is referring to shelters like 1811 Eastlake:
Turns out that they save a ton of your precious tax dollars.
Don’t give money to the homeless. It is sad to see a human destroy themselves with alcohol and other dangerous substances, whether they do it in public or in some Ballard dive. We see them all over Seattle everyday year after year. They do it to themselves with the poor choices they make. They gave-up and chose booze over a healthy productive life.
But at the same time, the "wet" houses likely stop some people from trying to stop drinking. Having the government warehouse people in a stupefied state out of sight probably isn't the best thing for society, even if it does save money.
Surprisingly, the "wet houses" don't encourage more/worse substance abuse. Many of the studies are showing that some residents dry up, and then work to help other residents do the same.
Totally non-intuitive; I would have assumed 100% that they would drink (or other drugs) themselves to death, but apparently not.
Read some of the articles-somewhat startling and surprising, but there are multiple cities considering this due to the convergence of a) less tax $ spent on chronic inebriates, and b) the added bonus of some of them drying up and returning to society in a productive way.
Yet again, personally found it hard to believe, but the evidence is there as shown by the article Ernie referenced, or plenty more write ups via Google search.
(I was against this idea before researching. Now am 100% in favor)
I'd strongly urge us to enable all the anti-social destructive choices people make.
Anything less would be 'dehumanizing'.
Besides, we've got population issues, and we need to save money by throwing it in the gutters of society, like Ballard.
*all of the above requires a stronger sarcasm font than is allowed in print*
I always see the argument that these "wet" houses save the taxpayers money -- and maybe it does save ER room visit costs -- but you never see how much money we taxpayers are funneling into facilities such as this. It's just a trade off -- money is just allocated from a different piece of the pie. I wonder if the guy mentioned in the article is still there -- it was written in March of 2009 -- you never see any long term stats from places such as these. And it also makes you wonder -- what is the impetus behind this -- to just save taxpayers money or does the city actually care about these people?
Compassion and a place to lay your head is essential. Without that, the chances of a becoming a contributing, functioning citizen is unlikely.
"Compassion and a place to lay your head is essential. Without that, the chances of a becoming a contributing, functioning citizen is unlikely."
Yet...we emphasize the need to fund and enable perpetual support for those who have no desire to be a contributing, functioning member of society.
makes perfect sense to me /sarcasm.
Maybe, if we were so 'dehumanizing' as to require public service for a flop house that we are required to fund, you'd really see a concerted effort from all to support it, and more compassion would flow.
Anyway, what passes for compassion here is laughable, and the ones laughing hardest are those you seek to reach. Or, they are openly belligerent for lack of respect of you.
My observation tends to support the latter, but the former is quite obvious as well.
I always see the argument that these "wet" houses save the taxpayers money -- and maybe it does save ER room visit costs -- but you never see how much money we taxpayers are funneling into facilities such as this.
Didja read the article? The people in 1811 cost the county $8.2 million per year before going into the program, and $4 million per year after. The county is out $240K per year in operating costs, plus another $2 million to set the thing up in the first place. Net savings, including the extra operational costs shifted to another line item in the budget: $4 million per year in operating money.
Go to any accountant. Tell them that you have a program for your organization that has been proven to save $4 million per year for an initial $2 million investment. Ask their opinion if it's a good idea. I'd love to hear an explanation why a 6-month payback period on investment isn't all that great, especially since 3-7+ years is more the norm.
If you want an alternative that saves more money, you're pretty much stuck with deciding not to give people free emergency health care if they can't afford treatment. Of course, that breaks federal law, so there are a few inconveniences to overcome first.
What about this 'waiting list'?
Is it compassionate to say no? You need to wait for someone to give up sitting on their ass drinking beer watching the Jefferson's?
If it was compassionate, you'd have beer and cable for EVERYONE. No need to work another day in your life! Damn.
If we only made this entire city a drunk house, just imagine what good it would do, how good we would feel.
We'd be the most compassionate city in the whole US of A.
Maybe we could be a model for the rest of the country? I'm sick of people struggling to make shit happen.
I'm climbing aboard the pink toxic cloud, tyvm.
Thanks, MW and Ernie. Will check out the info when I have a bit more time, but they are appreciated.
Really sad. He was always nice to me and Bella as we walked through Ballard. Makes my soul sad. RIP
OK, so setting aside federal and state law. Are we as a society willing to leave a guy collapsed on the sidewalk without medical treatment because he's (a) drunk and (b) can't pay for it? Are we willing to let him die of alcohol poisoning while paramedics stand by? If we aren't, then solutions like 1811 work. Because no matter how you feel about it, people like the guy in the article are going to get drunk and collapse on the sidewalk, and that costs us all boatloads of money. Reducing the harm in a small way dramatically reduces the amount of money we all spend on taking care of these guys. It sucks to think that we're providing housing to people because it's cheaper than the alternative, but that's the hard choices we elect people to make.
Seattle has what, half a million residents? At the time of the article Ernie cites, there were 95 residents at 1811 and 39 people on the waitlist. Let's call that 0.03% of the population. Unless you live in magical places where unicorns make mental illness all better, anywhere you go, you'll find a small percentage of the population that don't have their s*^%t together, and never will. I doubt many other people really want to be them. But if you're not going to let them die on the street, or imprison them for something else (also ridiculously expensive), then you are stuck with the cost they place on society.
To answer your question, yes, I would like to expand the program so that the rest of the people on the waiting list can get into a house. I'd sure rather that they are in a house watching the Jeffersons than taking up a bed at Harborview Emergency. I might need that bed sometime. And it's a heck of a lot cheaper.
Will you please float away on your pink cloud and join the unicorns in onederworld?
Boat geek: you talking to me?.....
I can see both sides of the coin in instances like these and understand the issues. I am also just a regular gal with a heart and things like this in my own backyard still strike a chord of sadness. And FWIW, I float around on a pretty happy peaceful cloud myself most of the time. No unicorns tho!! :)
"Are we as a society willing to leave a guy collapsed on the sidewalk without medical treatment because he's (a) drunk and (b) can't pay for it?"
As a daily listener to my scanner, dispatchers regularly alert available units(SPD) to
such circumstances. 'Fire has been screened, and is not responding.'
Thank God. I'm glad some of you do not run our emergency services.
I expect such services to be worth more than hosing off a sidewalk numerous times a day. But, I'm unusual, clearly.
Now, if I happen to collapse on a sidewalk, maybe even drool enough to cause alarm, even quiver with convulsions, not only would most cheer, but I'd forgive all, because when you dare trespass in drunkland, you will be taken for just another inebriate DOA.
At least my identity will be revealed, which is more than I can say of any of you walking dead.
Sorry, julesage, not aimed at you. RIP to this guy, and condolences to those who knew him. My apologies for feeding the trolls on a thread about somebody dying.
Too bad some here are unable to see nuance, but just a black & white world where their moral view is the only viewpoint.
The very emergency services that are referenced above get called non-stop to deal with health issues of transients, chronic inebriates, and drunks. 911 ends up being their health services to a disproportionate degree, costing all of us disproportionately.
Places like 1811 Eastlake help change that equation.
And they *also* release EMT and cops to do OTHER work, since they're not constantly tending to the above mentioned transients, chronic inebriates, and drunks who tie up services.
Saves money, saves time, frees up EMT personnel, helps some people get off drugs & alcohol.
I didn't believe it either (originally it seemed to me like it would just produce something out of "The Wire", or "The Corner" - a complete hell-hole that sucks out human souls), but I did the research, read the articles, and saw what wasn't immediately apparent; that it counter-intuitively gets people to change their behavior for the better.
Sometimes examining another point of view has some benefit, and one can learn from the experience.
Guess what. It works to house drunks in an 1811 Eastlake environment. They actually improve their lot, sometimes.
Don't believe it? Read up on the national studies about the approach, as well as about our local experiment.
It's what Europeans call "harm reduction". Maybe they just realize that humans are not inherently evil, horrible, and bad, and have to be *punished* into submission, but will actually try to get better when given the chance.
For those of you you would point to Ballard's transients, chronic inebriates, and drunks, saying "they'll never change" - how do you know? What resources do they have to use to modify their lives? What tools? How? How will they do this?
Where are the services to help them change their behavior, like an 1800 Eastlake? There *isn't*, so how will they? People need help sometimes to improve.
To be clear, help isn't a handout, spare change or otherwise.
But apparently 1800 Eastlake does help, strangely enough.
Boat geek: no worries, pal. Trolls suck.
midwest + 3!
(although, is there really another facility like this at 1800 across the street? :)
I'm definitely in favor of facilities like 1811 Eastlake. Not only do they save money, but they help people stabilize. It's both a humane and economical approach.
The death of the person found in Ballard Commons is sad, but not surprising. It's challenging to deal with people like this because they have to make the choice to seek help, and many of them either don't want to or don't have the wherewithal to do it. No one can force a person to go to a shelter or get help, and there aren't enough services - for addiction, mental health issues and medical problems - available for everyone who needs help.
All the people out there who oppose healthcare reform and universal healthcare need to understand that this is what happens when those critical services are not available.
I'll state the obvious question Compass Rose......would you still support a facility like this if it was called 2014 NW 57th?
Hmmm. Good question, Ernie. I think I would, because unlike URS, it would be a residential facility versus one that has people coming and going and possibly lining up outside.
Would I want it right next to my house? If I'm honest, probably not.
The Nyers Urness House (being built at 56th and 20th) is a facility like 1811 Eastlake.
Are you sure about that, Norge? I thought it was a facility for low income people, but not specifically for chronic inebriates, to use the city's term.
Edited because I was being unkind. Suffice it to say there are no plans to build a facility to house chronic inebriates in Ballard.
Cate is correct. I toured the Pioneer Square location and met with the CEO when this was in the planning stages and they were very clear on who their residents would be. I still would rather it not be here, but I am confident they will do their best to be good neighbors.
Attached is an statement made by the attorneys for Compass when they won the lawsuit to build the Nyers Urness House. As you can see, the article says it will be a facility with no sobriety requirements. Cate - this is a facility like 1811 Eastlake.
On July 5, GordonDerr scored a major victory when Superior Court Judge Michael Heavey affirmed the City of Seattle's decisions to approve a "Housing First" project proposed by GordonDerr client Compass Housing Alliance. Judge Heavey ruled that the legal challenges filed by opponents of the project were without merit and dismissed all of their claims.
The "Nyer Urness House" project is a seven-story mixed-use building in the Ballard neighborhood that will provide 80 studio apartments as well as a medical clinic and administrative offices. The apartments will be leased to low-income elderly, disabled, or homeless individuals, including tenants who have been chronically homeless. Nyer Urness House has been designed and will be managed as a "Housing First" project, which allows homeless individuals to enter housing without a sobriety requirement and provides access to various supportive services.
The Housing First approach has been shown to be effective at addressing chronic homelessness, reducing the use and cost of emergency services, and improving the health and lives of tenants. By providing stable housing and ready access to services, Housing First projects empower formerly homeless individuals to address other physical and mental issues that may have prevented them from obtaining stable housing in the past. Housing First projects have successfully operated for many years in Seattle and other cities.
One of my best friends is one of the Gordon Derr attorneys that busted her ass on this topic.
Small clarification (which I've confirmed by looking at the Compass and DESC web sites): Nyer Urness is not a facility like 1811 Eastlake. 1811 actually targets chronic alcoholics. Nyer Urness simply doesn't require that you be sober in order to be housed.
Nyer Urness (pdf)
Nyer Urness simply doesn't require that you be sober in order to be housed.
We have the same rule at chez Ernie......fwiw.
Probable death from chronic alcoholism. Who gave money to this lost soul?
I seem to remember that Urness will give priority in housing to the most needy cases, which will presumably put the chronic alcoholics at the front of the line.
I did find the Gorden Derr statement amusing in its use of the word "empower". I wouldn't have thought that becoming a ward of the system really qualified as a case of empowerment.
This was taken from MyBallard --
Compass housing to be Urness House
Posted by Geeky Swedes on May 5th, 2010
Compass Housing Alliance (formerly Compass Center) has released details on their new low-income housing development at 1753 NW 56th St., which will be called Urness House.
The 80-unit mixed-use building will house chronically homeless men and women. There will be a screening process for those who wish to live there. All residents must pass the tax credit eligibility criteria and be able to live on their own. A person who has been convicted of arson within the last ten years or is a level 3 sex offender will not be allowed into Urness House, according to a release sent by Compass Housing Alliance. “An application will be forwarded for review in the event that the record indicates a conviction of a crime that requires registration as a sex offender, other serious crimes, or a continued pattern of criminal convictions which indicate that the applicant for residency poses a risk to the safety of tenants, staff or neighbors,” the release explains.
The first two floors of the facility will be support services for residents and non-residents. Social workers, addiction counselors, mental health professionals, healthcare providers and employment specialists will work out of these offices. These human services will not be provided by Compass Housing Authority, but by outside organizations.
There is no simple solution to a complex situation. If someone had cancer, but no medical coverage it would be more socially accepted for them to get health care that costs the tax payer. Someone who is an addict also has a disease (hard to really grasp that concept if you have never been an addict). There is no forcing anyone into treatment, but wet houses provide an important foundation. There is a very unlikely chance that someone will get sober on the street. Having the stability of a place to go (sober or not) is the right thing to do in my opinion. Wet Houses work, harm reduction works.
Wet houses aren't treatment, so don't "work" in that sense. We wouldn't (or at least shouldn't!) pay for medical treatments that don't work. I'm for institutions that do actually work, as shown by hard data. Delancey Street in San Francisco has a decades-long track record of success. I suspect part of the reason for its success is that it asks for something in return from the folks it helps.
How about a good ol' fashion workhouse?
"There is no simple solution to a complex situation. If someone had cancer, but no medical coverage it would be more socially accepted for them to get health care that costs the tax payer. Someone who is an addict also has a disease (hard to really grasp that concept if you have never been an addict). There is no forcing anyone into treatment, but wet houses provide an important foundation. There is a very unlikely chance that someone will get sober on the street. Having the stability of a place to go (sober or not) is the right thing to do in my opinion. Wet Houses work, harm reduction works."
Thank you misslydia. Well said.
JAMA research shows housing for homeless saves taxpayers millions
And costs taxpayers millions.
I oppose any dis-incentive to be productive. It's perpetual and growing, and it is wrong. Not only does it undermine values as a whole, it undermines individuals that really need to kick a serious issue.
It's clear that many programs that require sobriety first, productivity second, are far more beneficial to society as a whole, but more importantly, are more beneficial to anyone that needs to be supported.
Anyway, too many people are wedded to the idea that drunk houses are more compassionate than folks expecting respect for individual enlightenment and growth. I've spent years finding local programs that lift folks up, not enable them into a ditch or a grave. This city's budget is absolutely void of the concept.
Simply unacceptable for any compassionate individual to endorse, imo.
In my view absolutely no money should be set aside to enable someone to drink (and thereby cause harm to themselves).
The money comes from a pot that could be spent to help people that also need help ie. homeless families, cancer treatment centers, hospices, or even places to train or educate people.
If they chose to do something stupid and die because of it. That is sad, but maybe it was meant to be.
I think some of the posters on this thread missed the point of the JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) report:
"JAMA research shows housing for homeless saves taxpayers millions"
See the report for details.
Beyond that, the harsh judgementalism of others cannot be argued. It is what it is.
Shanedillon- Do you realize that wethouses actually save money which is why the cities do them? So unless you are also going to say you don't think we should pay for ambulance rides, medical care, and prison cells for the chronic drunks who would otherwise be safe in their wethouse you point makes no sense.
By having wethouses they actually free up resources for others who want help. I suggest you read more on the subject.
Gabor Maté on "harm reduction."
Here is a paper I wrote while attending the Social and Human Services program at Seattle Central Community College. The group I was in was given the topic "wet houses." Half of us had to research the pros of this program and the other half had to look at the cons. This was in 2009. I was on on the pro side, here is the research that I found.
The “Wet House” Debate
Proposition: Wet houses are the most effective and humane method of caring for chronic homeless alcoholics.
“Wet House,” also known as Housing First, is subsidized, stable housing for chronic alcoholics. Wet houses are a sub-division of the Housing First initiative that was enacted by the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) as part of a 10-year plan to end homelessness. This program has been funded with $10 billion in public money--including city capital funds, revenues from Battery Park City, the World Trade Center and redirected federal aid.
Chronic alcoholics are defined as the county's most expensive individuals; those who have been consistently in and out of hospital emergency rooms, alcohol detox facilities, county court systems and jail. It’s estimated that 30% of homeless people in the United States are addicted to alcohol. Residents invited to live in a wet house are the people who have been using the “systems” resources for more than three years and have been referred by a social worker. The person invited into the housing first program is someone who has costed taxpayers more than $4,000 a month. A person is not required to accept the invitation to live in a wet house, for the program is voluntary.
Wet houses are a fairly new approach to handling the chronic alcoholic, homeless population. The first one was built in the UK in 1992. Seattle started its first wet house in 2005. Currently, there are over 400 wet houses worldwide.
A typical wet house contains around 70-75 small apartments or studios. In some states a person is required to pay 30% of their income towards rent. But, in many cases they are rent-free. This new approach emphasises on meeting the homeless, alcoholic where they are. There is no requirment or expectation to stop the person’s drinking. A person living in a wet house can drink in their own room, as they please, without any penalties. Wet houses generally have a common room where the residents can participate in card games, yoga and other activities. In these, “common areas,” they are not permitted to drink. Many of the residents tend to have co-occurring addictions and can also use drugs in their room privately. The average stay in a wet house is 18-21 months. Residents can be kicked out if they hurt themselves or someone else.
Participation in counseling or rehabilitation is not mandatory, either. On sight there will usually be at least one social worker and one health care worker. These social workers are on sight to assist residents interested in learning about their substance abuse and those willing to set work and life goals. The people living in the wet house have several resources available to them. Medication management, advocacy, meals, and activities are just some of the things residents have in-house access to.
Whenever money is going to be spent on treating someone who is homeless and has a chronic addiction there is undoubtfuly going to be argument around the funding. For many, “Wet Houses,” have become an ethical debate. Questions surrounding “wet houses,” are: Who should pay for it? Is this type of housing enabling? And, if at all, where should they be built? Or, is the government’s budget more important than the value of an individual’s life?
Wet houses do save money, improve the health and well being of participants in the program and offer a more immediate, efficient use of available resources. There is not a lot of research on “Wet Houses,” but in March of 2009 the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study on Seattle’s wet house, known as 1811 Eastlake. In this study researchers collected administrative data from the Justice Service Center and claims made to Medicaid. The statistics showed that the average monthly cost to the state was $4,066 per homeless person. Costing the state more than $48,000 dollars per year. On the other hand, providing chronic homeless alcoholics with subsidized permanent housing and supportive services, such as alcohol treatment, counseling and meals costs only an estimated 13,500 per year. Within six months of a resident living in a wet house the median cost was reduced to $958 per month.
All of the research conducted shows a large difference between those residents just entering housing and residents who have been living there for six months, or more. Not only had the cost per resident been cut nearly in half, but also the participants had all cut reduced their drinking by 2% each month.
When people enter a wet house they are generally pretty sick and suffer from some type of mental illness; according to Bill Hobson, downtown director of Seattle’s Emergency Services. The first few months of a resident’s stay is usually dedicated to resolving any physical ailments he/she may have. After the six-month mark most residents are medically stabilized. The immediate investment in their health ends up reducing expensive visits to the ER as well as the costs throughout the criminal justice system. According to Mary Larimer, professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington, who led the study, “Homeless alcoholics who qualify to take part in Housing First can stay out of jails and emergency rooms and cost the taxpayers a lot less money as a result.”
Housing First does not require a person to be sober, but it does offer a stable living environment with optional on-site support. It takes away the barrier of requiring treatment before housing. Within the chronic alcoholic population, forced treatment has failed these people. It has been reported by the Journal Of American Medicine Association (JAMA), that the, Wet House,” form of intervention has resolved many residents’ health problems from which they may have died if they were not treated. The housing keeps not only the resident safe, but the community as well. Wet houses are generally built in an urban neighborhood, away from houses and children. Addiction is a complex issue, even more so when someone is homeless. For some, their addiction is a result of being homeless; and for others, homelessness has come at the hand of their addiction. Some choose to refuse homeless shelters because they tent to contain a lot of violence, alcohol is not allowed, and couples cannot stay together. Forced treatment is unlikely to work, so the program Housing First was developed to address that reality while still handling the addict in a humane and cost effective way.
One the other side of the coin, wet houses may save taxpayers money, but the program is not the most cost effective approach to treating a homeless, chronic alcohol. Housing first is intervention care. Preventative care is proven to save more money. Money should be used for preventative care and treating a person’s addiction before housing. Addiction is not the only cause for homelessness. Other factors that increase vulnerability include poverty, poor employment, lack of education, and a history of abuse or neglect, according to David E. Pollio, Ph.D. Spending funding to address the other factors mentioned is needed to prevent a person from becoming homeless in the first place, according to the Center of Poverty Solution. In a cross-sectional study of 900 homeless individuals that looked at temporal relationships between relative onset of mental illness and homelessness, investigators from Washington University in St. Louis determined that nearly 88% of the homeless men and 84% of the homeless women who abused alcohol had been diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder in the year before becoming homeless. The people in the study reported that when they became homeless, "the increase was often in response to self-reported mental health symptoms" such as anxiety or depression. According to health economists, preventive measures should be targeted toward high-risk populations who are more likely to develop disease, in order to be cost effective. Many doctors and health economists agree that preventative care improves the health of Americans and makes it easier for people to be productive members of society.
Treatment, adherence and abstinence should be required before a person gets housing. Providing a person with treatment before housing is a holistic approach with the focus on recovery. Housing first programs are enabling and don’t promote recovery. In a housing first approach the residents may be treated medically, but they are free to leave as they please and will continue to be an expensive addict on the street. A person’s emotional issue in combination with their medical needs is the humane way in treating an addict and promoting recovery.
The Journal Of American Psychology reported in April, 2009, that of 80 participants tracked over 12 months, 84% remained enrolled in the Housing First program for 1 year following program entry. One half of those spent every night in their Housing First unit. If only half of the people are spending the night in their unit the other half is on the street still causing disturbances to the nearby community. Residents are free to come and go as they please. Some of the Wet Houses being built are near schools and businesses. Having a large amount of intoxicated people in one area is dangerous to the children and has been shown to reduce business at retail locations near theses facilities.
My position is that Wet Houses are the most cost effective and humane way in treating a chronic alcoholic. The numbers from several different studies prove that this form of treatment saves taxpayers money. Seattle alone saves over 4 million dollars a year. Housing is a basic right and every person should have a place to call home. From my research I learned that many people refuse to stay in shelters because they have no freedom in them, they are smelly, and sometimes dangerous. Addictions are complex and difficult to treat. No matter how much money we spend or how many times we try and force people into treatment, a person will not recover unless they are ready. The Housing First program is an immediate intervention without the barriers that prevent many homeless addicts from being able to access help. On a freezing cold night a person may refuse a shelter because they can’t have their alcohol. Allowing individuals to enter without barriers is saving lives. A person cannot possibly feel good or even think about recovery while living on the streets. Providing stable housing for people who are chronically sick is humane because it preserves their autonomy. Just the fact that the people have freedom to choose if they want access to health care, case workers, and their own room can be enough to relight a fire in a person, giving them hope, safety and the ability to focus on making positive changes and recovery. I read in the New York Times that is was originally believed that treating the addiction first was suppose to reduce a persons consumption of alcohol. After a year long study with 300 people receiving treatment first and the other 300 people receiving housing first that theory was proven wrong. The study showed there was no significant difference in someone recovering from drinking in a treatment setting versus a wet house. Housing first addresses the reality that not everyone will choose recovery and still offers those people a place to call home with positive resources available if they so choose.
Homelessness is a tricky issue in solving and even harder when someone is an addict. Even though wet houses are continuing to pop up all over the world, they do not enter a community without much debate and protest. The issue of whether housing first or treatment first is a greatly argued topic. Wet houses have shown to be a cost affective way in treating the addicted homeless population. Funding nation wide is tight for everything and the distribution of tax money for chronic alcoholics does not sit well with many people. Wet houses are sure to provoke an ethical debate as long as they exist. This treatment is still new and much more research will need to be conducted to quantify the long-term affects of Housing First.
1. Substance Abuse Contributes to Homelessness. Diana Mahoney.
opposing Viewpoints: The Homeless. Ed. Louise Gerdes. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2007.
2. Kim Hopper Reckoning with Homelessness. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2003.
3. Fiore, Kristina. "Housing Homeless Alcoholics Cuts Public Costs, Alcohol Use". Medpagetoday. March 31, 2009. <http://www.medpagetoday.com/PublicHealthPolicy/PublicHealth/13536>.
4. Podymow, Tina. "Shelter-based managed alcohol administration to chronicallyhomeless people addicted to alcohol". CMAJ-JAMC. January 3, 2006 <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1319345/>.
Thank you, Lydia.
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