Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

February 21, 2014

Forum: Creating Dann’s House

StonesHouse, Inc., a local nonprofit committed to helping communities develop recovery residences, was recently awarded a $35,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Community Health to open Dann’s House. The organization was one of 42 health and mental health agencies in Michigan to receive funds for an innovative community approach to addressing issues of substance abuse, homelessness and mental illness.

Dann’s House is intended to be a permanent residence for those who suffer from chronic alcoholism and prolonged homelessness. The project is based on the philosophy that even if a person cannot recover from the disease of alcoholism, they still can contribute positively to the community.

The house’s namesake, Dann McCarthy, is an example of a person with chronic alcoholism who sometimes experienced homelessness yet helped many people. It is known that permanent housing like Dann’s House directly improves the quality of life for the people who live in them, while reducing their use of expensive health and criminal justice services.

Dann’s House fills a gap in the continuum of care that exists in our community to assist people experiencing both homelessness and alcoholism. At this time, there are approximately 12 to15 individuals who are known to the police, emergency room personnel and shelters as long-term homeless with active addictions. These individuals are not eligible for the Goodwill Inn shelter or able to be sheltered at Safe Harbor due to their active addiction.

Unlike Safe Harbor and the Goodwill Inn, Dann’s House is not intended to provide emergency shelter, but rather a permanent residence in a normalized environment that offers a healthier setting than the street or a temporary shelter. The stability of a residency coupled with case management supports to address health and social needs is shown to decrease the use of alcohol over time. This stability and the individual’s connectedness positively influences their behavior.

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