Are We Really Reducing Harm?

I understand that the Housing 1st push to provide Permanent Supportive Housing along with The Harm Reduction Model (allowing drug use in the privacy of one’s unit within Permanent Supportive Housing) is being touted From Washington D.C. to Los Angeles as the latest silver bullet to end homelessness, but has anyone considered housing options for those who want to remain sober and reside in a sober and safe environment?

Each quarter 14 to 30 men graduate from Union Rescue Mission’s intense 1 year recovery program sober, hopeful, and prepared for a job opportunity, a productive life, and a home.  Every 6 months a mom with children graduates from a similar program adapted for women and families at URM’s Hope Gardens Family Center.

Each of these precious people, their life transformed through 100’s of hours of hard work in many areas of their life, hope to move into safe, affordable housing which will allow them to continue in a life of sobriety.

This sober life would nearly be impossible in an environment that allows open drug use.  Becky, a former graduate of URM just stopped by my office as I was writing this.  She said within her current permanent housing complex on Skid Row there are bug problems, drug problems, violence, theft, and women being raped nearly every night.  She is afraid.  From her description it appears the horrors of the streets of Skid Row have merely been brought inside of this building. She and others deserve better. She and others desiring to be sober wish for a sober, safe place to live.

Might the Housing 1st folks, Home For Good LA, LA County/City and all consider investing in a project for people coming out of homelessness who actually want to live a sober and productive life again?

One thought on “Are We Really Reducing Harm?

  1. Claire O. on

    Dear Andy, great points! I love URM’s work and I donate monthly. Ideally all people should come out of shelters as prepared as the ones you describe. I now work in affordable, permanent, supportive housing and can assure you we have the same goals. We believe in integrated housing that allows people to transition away from skid row and live in safe neighborhoods, living together in communities with market-rate renters. Our properties have an onsite, 24/7 manager along with onsite resident service coordinators and mental health providers that ensure sober and safe living spaces for all. The goal is that all of our organizations: temporary and transitional shelters and permanent housing, will work together to help people along the whole journey to leave homelessness for good. With love, Claire

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