Saturday, February 18, 2012
The other day, an article on abclocal.go.com caught my eye – Proposed SF homeless housing plan causes stir. The article is about San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty embracing a plan for so-called “wet houses.” This housing option, modeled after Seattle’s housing first programs, provides participants with safe housing without requiring sobriety or treatment as a condition of housing.
In 2006, the City of Seattle offered city-paid apartments to “chronic public inebriates” to reduce the annual costs of the city’s homeless shelters, emergency rooms, jails, and alcohol detoxification treatment facilities – and to remove chronic substance abusers from the streets. The differentiating element is that Seattle’s housing first program does not require sobriety (see King County 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness and Seattle Adopts Housing First for Homeless Alcoholics ).
While the Seattle initiative has not made a big dent in the participants use of alcohol (reductions are only two percent), there have been other important outcomes. Homeless individuals enrolled in a Seattle “housing first” project stayed out of jail more days and had fewer emergency department visits after six months in the project compared to a control group. Before entering housing first, the 95 housing first participants cost the city about $8.2 million. After six months in the program, as a group their costs to the city were only $4.1 million (see Costs for Participants in Seattle’s Housing First Program Reduced by $4 Million and Health Care and Public Service Use and Costs Before and After Provision of Housing for Chronically Homeless Persons With Severe Alcohol Problems).
Over the past few months, other jurisdictions have looked for organizations to manage similar programs in their community. To take a look at similar requests for proposals that have been issued for these programs, check out:
The Albuquerque Heading Home Model is modeled after the Housing First program (see New Mexico’s City of Albuquerque Seeks Supportive Housing Services RFP HotLine members).
The Delaware Department of Health and Social services is looking for a housing first approach (see Delaware Seeks Assertive Community Treatment and Intensive Case Management Services RFP HotLine members).
California’s Merced County is looking to use The CARE Program, with emphasis on housing first (see California’s Merced County Seeks Community Assistance Recovery Program Services RFP HotLine members).
New Jersey Division of Mental Health Services is expanding an existing model based on a “Housing First” philosophy (see New Jersey Seeks Expansion of Existing Programs of Assertive Community Treatment and Residential Intensive Support Teams RFP HotLine members).
While the “wet house” approach is not without its critics, the model will continue to gain attention as a way to save overall health and human service system costs.
RFP Production Manager, OPEN MINDS
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