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.
Dann’s House will work in collaboration with Safe Harbor and the Goodwill Street Outreach Team to expand permanent housing options for those wanting to leave the streets and provides a resource for law enforcement and other emergency personnel when dealing with the individual who is homeless and intoxicated.
The Health Innovation Grant funds will be directed to the initial start-up costs to establish Dann’s House. Over the past year, the StonesHouse Board of Directors has expanded and continues to work with Northsky Nonprofit Network with funds from a Rotary Charities Organizational Capacity Assessment Grant to develop the Board and plan for the organization. We appreciate the support extended to the project and are committed to engaging members of the community in our planning.
About the author: Jane Hayes is chair of the StonesHouse, Inc. board. She retired in 2013 as an Associate Professor of Social Work at Grand Valley State University. She holds a doctoral degree and is a Licensed Master Social Worker She is a member of the Northwest Michigan Supportive Housing Board and a former president of both the Great Lakes Community Mental Health Board and the Traverse City Public School Board by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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