When the Board of Directors first opened Dann’s House, led by Greg Stone’s vision, we had only one goal: to provide a home for our most vulnerable neighbors – the people no one else wanted, people who had been on the streets a long time, and have severe Alcohol Use Disorder. We had no plans to provide any services to our residents other than a place to live and be safe, warm, and dry.
We knew that our residents had often been in trouble with the law, and unable to keep jobs or remain housed for long. We knew that programs or shelters that required abstinence from alcohol had never worked for them. Following the Housing First approaches and the Harm Reduction models used by similar houses in Seattle and Duluth, and honoring the memory of Dann McCarthy, we opened Dann’s House in August 2014.
Based on research from the other houses, we had some expectations and hopes for improvements in our residents’ lives. We expected that they’d achieve some stability, and reduce their run-ins with police, and that this would benefit the community by removing them from the street and reducing their use of publicly funded services like law enforcement and emergency medicine. We hoped that they might reduce their alcohol consumption, and that eventually they might take better care of their health. We never expected any of them to stop drinking altogether, to make and keep appointments with their doctors and social workers, or to undergo counselling to address their mental wellness.
We are pleased to say that the residents of Dann’s House have proved us wrong.
Our Case Manager came on board in May 2015, and began to work with our residents, as they became willing, helping them assess their needs, set goals for their lives, and access services. Their responses to the positive effects of being housed have far exceeded not only our expectations, but even the hopes that we dared to entertain.
All of them have greatly reduced the amount of alcohol they consume. Having the security of a home has reduced their need and craving for alcohol.
Two of them have completely stopped drinking, and one of those has gone on to independent housing.
All of them have applied for and begun to receive benefits like Medicaid, Social Security/Disability, and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps).
They are all paying rent (using the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development formula of 30% of their income).
They are all eating better and sleeping better than they were when they were on the street, which has had a significant positive effect on their physical and mental health.
They have all met with doctors and seen substantial improvements in their health (one has new glasses and another had eye surgery; one is taking medication for a heart condition; one has plans to have a broken tooth fixed).
Two are seeing counsellors regularly, addressing the underlying causes of their alcohol use, and one of these is taking medication for his anxiety and depression.
One has a part-time job, allowing him to make a positive contribution to the community.
None of them are being picked up by police or ambulances and brought to jail or the Emergency Department. This leaves law enforcement officers and emergency medical personnel available to take care of the rest of the community, and improves the community atmosphere by reducing vagrancy.
After just a year and a half, Dann’s House is not just working. It’s working miracles.
A recent Record-Eagle articlereviewed the data collected by Dann’s House from Central Dispatch in Traverse City and saw the same dramatic decrease in police calls on our residents that we did when we analyzed the data. If you would like to see the whole report, you can find it here:Data Analysis from Central Dispatch.
The article was well written and well reasoned. The only error we would note is this statement: “Reasons for the 911 calls ranged from assault and larceny to drunkenness and disorderly conduct.”
“Assault” and “larceny” were among screening categories we used to gather all 564 reports for every incident at some designated locations. The screening list included: Assault, Assist, CSC, Disorderly, Drunkenness, EMS, Harassment, Larceny, MDOP (malicious destruction of property), Suspicious, Trespass, Weapons, and Welfare Check. A cursory review of our list of 84 incidents in theData Analysis from Central Dispatchwill show that there are no larceny calls on our residents and all three assault calls were incidents where one of our residents was the victim. Call codes for our residents were limited to Assist, Disorderly, Drunkenness, EMS, Suspicious, Trespass, and Welfare Check.
Dann’s House has received a generous grant from the Oleson Foundation, which will partially fund a renovation at the house. We plan to add a bedroom, which will increase the number of residents we can accommodate, as well as a small office, where our House Manager can conduct house business and our Case Manager can meet with residents in private to help them access the services they need.
The Dann’s House project is seeking a Part-Time Supportive Housing Case Manager to work as a contractor, while promoting the self-sufficiency and housing retention of residents by providing quality case management and supportive services.
Join us for the 2015 Ancient Order of Hibernians Annual Lucky Leprechaun Ball! This event, a fundraiser for Dann’s House, will include performances from the members of Song of the Lakes, The Wild Sullys, Blue Footed Booby, Pam McCormick (Irish Dancer), Mike Kelly (Actor), Stephan MacNeil (seven-time Northern American Highland bagpipe champion), a Tribute to Robert Emmett, and our very own Shaun Anchak, who sits on the StonesHouse Board of Directors.
This year’s event will be held in The Workshop, at 221 Garland Street in the Warehouse District in Traverse City. The event will feature the open format of an Irish session. Rather than being like a concert or a festival, where one band at a time gets up and plays, members from different groups will all get on stage and perform together in different configurations. It should be great fun!
The Ball will also host the 36th annual Danny Boy Singing Contest! Prizes will be awarded to the top three competitors.
On March 9, the Record-Eaglepublished a great story about the event , quoting several of Dann McCarthy’s Hibernian brothers who echoed this sentiment:
…McCarthy, who died in 2012 from a pulmonary embolism and alcohol intoxication, embodied the Hibernian motto of “friendship, unity and Christian charity.” So it’s only fitting that the ball — promoted as a family cultural event rather than a drinking event — is dedicated to raising money for the causes he believed in.
The guys from Dann’s House were interviewed by the Northern Express. Their group interview was published in the December 15, 2014 issue.
Overall, we were very pleased with the article. It is worth noting that we prefer not to use the term “wet house.” It seems pejorative and implies a “party house” to many.
Also, we would clarify that there was a volunteer who purchased beer for the residents out of his own pocket in the beginning. It was never the policy of the organization and we stopped it as soon as we found out. (See the FAQs.)
Buchanan: I’m glad to have the opportunity to be here.
Ciccone: I am deeply grateful for this situation and I feel blessed, personally.
On December 9, Rotary Charities of Traverse City announced that it would support us with a significant program grant, as we continue to build and improve our Dann’s House program. This major gift is the first of three years of funding that we can expect to receive, assuming that meet expected benchmarks in our program.
Rotary Charities has previously supported our efforts with support for Board development and strategic planning, especially as the planning pertains to communications and fundraising. Their continuing support has enabled us to advance the Dann’s House project from concept to implementation much more quickly that we might have otherwise.
The United Way of Northwest Michigan awarded a $16,000 grant to support the Dann’s House program. The purpose of the funds is to subsidize some rent and hire a Program Director to oversee the project, with the long-term goal of expanding the project to accommodate more residents.
Our program was selected based on the specific recommendations of the community volunteer Citizen Action Team who reviewed the competing applications and participated in each of the interviews. The Team recommendations were reviewed for allocation and unanimously ratified at United Way’s Board of Directors.