The need for supportive housing for people with Alcohol Use Disorder is evident. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, around two-thirds of people experiencing chronic homelessness “have a primary substance use disorder.”
Alcohol Use Disorder is a disease from which some people do not recover. Yet there are ways that we as a community can reduce the harm suffered by people with this disorder. In the process, the community sees significant benefits, both intangible and practical.
Following a harm reduction model, Dann’s House provides transitional and supportive housing, without requiring abstinence, for people who have experienced chronic homelessness and persistent, severe Alcohol Use Disorder. Once removed from the chaos of the street, our residents are able to reduce the amount of alcohol they consume, and then they can achieve enough stability to attend to their secondary health concerns.
Dann’s House provides more than a place to be safe, warm, and dry. Residents meet with a Case Manager who helps them assess their needs and set goals for their lives. They receive help applying for benefits they may be entitled to; since we are a Michigan Benefits Access Partner, applications can be completed at the house. This removes a barrier to these benefits that existed when our residents were living on the streets. With assistance from our Case Manager and House Assistants, residents can now make and keep appointments with social workers, health care providers, and even counselors. Eventually, some of them are able to volunteer in the community, seek employment, and repair relationships with long-estranged family members.
With the stability that our residents have achieved at Dann’s House, the community living skills that they have gained, and ongoing support from staff and volunteers, some are able to pursue a more independent living situation. Dann’s House leadership collaborates with other agencies to move our residents into independent housing. If they desire, we maintain connections with those who move out to help them make the adjustment.
Dann’s House is different from other transitional houses in the area, in we do not require abstinence from alcohol, testing for alcohol and drugs, or participation in any 12-step programs. We do not expect that our residents will become abstinent, but we have seen their consumption reduced and their physical and mental health improved.
People experiencing chronic homelessness and persistent, severe alcohol use disorder strain the financial resources of the community, including:
Our region relies on tourism. Street presence of people with active alcoholism can have a negative impact on the community ambiance.
“A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi