Alcoholics Find ‘Safe’ Place To Drink

By Bill Hudson, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Sitting in an office at a St. Paul cremation and funeral service, 32-year-old Aimee Hallen recalls the police phone call on Saturday.

“They were looking for the next of kin,” said Hallen, as she wiped away her tears.

In a strange, yet very real way, her sudden grief felt a bit awkward since she’s reflecting on a father she barely knew.

“I know that he’s lived a hard life. I know that he’s lived on the streets. I know that he has worn out his welcome at many places,” Hallen admitted.

Hallen’s father was 55-year-old Ralph Stansbury, who battled a lifelong addiction to alcohol. For Hallen, softening the shock of Saturday’s sudden phone call was the knowledge that her estranged father wasn’t found frozen under a bridge.

Stansbury died a quiet death while sleeping in his simple room at St. Anthony Residence.

“Pretty basic,” is how site manager Bill Hockenberger described client’s quarters.

The residence for Ramsey County’s chronic alcoholics is operated by Catholic Charities. The mission is not to treat or cure alcoholics of their addiction, but rather to reduce harm — to both themselves and others.

“The client that moves in here pretty much had their last fight. They’re at a point in life where they’ve lost their housing so many times that they know what they need,” explained Hockenberger.

And what they need, said Hockenberger, is a safe and simple place to stay. Everyone who stays at the facility has a couple of things in common — they are all chronic alcoholics who’ve failed many attempts at treatment and they’ve spent a good share of their time living on the streets.

Hockenberger, himself a recovering alcoholic, said that’s because they’ve exhausted most ties to family and burned bridges of support.

“Bad things happen on the streets,” said resident Paul Schiller.

At 54, Schiller’s home is now a 10-foot-by-10-foot room built of concrete block walls. It’s much like a college dorm with room enough only for a single bed, a television and a bedside table.

“There’s been better days in my life, but this is where I ended up,” explained Schiller.

But what makes St. Anthony Residence so different from conventional treatment programs is that if Schiller or any of the residents want to drink, they still can.

Although drinking is not allowed in their private rooms, they are free to smoke and drink on an outside patio. Residents have to buy their own alcohol with whatever meager income they can scrape together.

Schiller said he often goes “canning,” by collecting aluminum beverage cans and turning them in for a few dollars.

However, any alcohol brought into the building has to be checked at the front desk. Staff will place the alcohol in a locked room and turn it over upon request.

“Mainly safety and it’s part of harm reduction model. We can control and let them monitor their drinking a bit,” said Hackenberger.

Catholic Charities director of housing and emergency services, Tracy Berglund said, giving chronic alcoholics housing reduces the cost to everyone.

“There are studies that find when folks get housing, their drinking reduces,” she said.

Then there is the cost comparison of housing people at $42 per day versus the thousands of dollars spent on each trip to a detox center or hospital emergency room.

“Most of our folks have gone to treatment multiple times. We get a majority of our referrals from Ramsey County detox,” said Berglund.

Instead, St. Anthony Residence provides the 60 residents with three meals per day as well as necessary medical services provided by an on-site nurse.

Still, some critics have said that allowing chronic alcoholics to continue drinking is a bit like giving up on any possible rehabilitation. Berglund said the fact remains that treatment only works when the person is amenable to it.

“It helps to erase the pain,” said Schiller. He said he drinks whenever he feels the need.

And for estranged loved ones like Aimee Hallen, who now grieves her father’s death, it is a battle that some will never win. To her, what matters most is knowing a loved one spent their last days with a sense of dignity — not wasting away on the streets.

To Hallen, what gives her comfort is the fact, “that he passed away in his sleep in a place that people knew he had passed away and could handle him properly.”

More from Bill Hudson
  • ahernandez

    not sure if I am in agreement, using money to support these people’s habits is wrong though. My alcoholic father lives with us and I am an only child, my mother died 4 years ago and he is wearing out his welcome. It’s hard to support someone who has that habit and is older and doesn’t want to listen or go to the doctor. I have one child and another on the way and I have to think of my kids welfare too. So I am not sure what I am going to do with him.

    • Tammie

      @ahernandez- You should try and get your father in one of these homes. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call. Did he see this on the news? Maybe he would want to go. I feel bad for you and your kids.

      • Jewels

        I went to High School with the individual that was Aimee’s father. I remember him and never knew he had the disease. Wished I could have helped him. I also live with an alcoholic. When he drinks he is another person. I keep my mouth shut and try to remember what my counselor has said. You answer the drinking person with four answers: Yes, No, I Don’t Know, Maybe. That’s it. I also have an addiction of Diet Pepsi and live with Diabetes. This is also a disease. Remember alcohol is a disease. I don’t kick him out when he’s drinking I pray that this day will pass and he’ll try harder again tomorrow. You don’t like the person when they are drinking, but remember he is a person with feelings and thoughts of his own and also may feel bad himself for the disease taking his control away. You may feel sorry for the person with diabetes, cancer or mental illness but you don’t for alcoholism. When you are born you don’t get choice if you want a disease or not! First and foremost is to understand the meaning of disease. I still want my sugar (chocolate, pie, donuts) and maybe cheat the same as the alcoholic, but that doesn’t make me bad. I slipped and will try harder. After awhile you get warn down or tired of beating yourself up and give up. Love is in the heart and mind. Yeah, for catholic charities. They use both human instincts.

    • allison boisvert

      While I can appreciate how difficult this may be to accept in the land of ten thousand treatment centers….not everyone is going to become sober. The kind of addiction to alcohol that is found in this population does not compare with the ‘going to sober up at Hazelden crowd” This is an addiction that is not very well understood in the treatment world and much more complex than they would like to think. I hope that the tax payer can understand that this is not only humane but it is cost efficient. Unless, we choose to let people die on the streets and that of course is an option this is by far cheaper and remember you the tax payer will pay for this one way or the other… do you want to do it. Congradulations Catholic Charities.

      • Sarah

        I agree with you 100% Allison. Where is there information about this sort of addiction? Has it been studied? As a former alcohol abuser, I am facinated by any new insights into addiction therapy. The current AA model is so ineffective – I’m interested in a new, holistic, innovative approach. It’s just not out there.

        I have to say, thanks to a non-government agency for thinking outside of the box and actually helping people in whatever way that might be.

    • Kristine

      Get him into treatment. Get him committed if necessary. Contact social services in your county. It is never to late for him to change. Please don’t give up on him.

  • Patti

    This is why I am proud to live in Minnesota. Programs like this give dignity to lives that are otherwise thought of as worthless. If we cannot be compassionate – we are nothing.

  • Eric Strus

    so this story leaves me with so many questions? why does it only cost a few dollars a day to have these people there but yet you say it costs thousands to send them to detox??? how long does the average person stay there? do they get the alcohol provided to them? are all these people expected to die while there? how is this ok when dr. kivorkian was considered to be a killer? dont get me wrong, i am glad you aired the story but way to open ended!!!!! this just dont seem right. there are LOTS of people out here in the real world that need help and are trying to do the right thing by getting their lives back on track, not trying to drink themselves to death! explain to me how this is right??

    • jlynn

      It is ri ght because these people have failed rehab many times, it is right because it provides them a place to stay rather than having them sleeping under a bridge, it is right becuas alcohol is NOT provided to them. If they want alcohol they have to find the money to get it. It is right because they are treated with dignity that every human being should be treated with.

      Not everyone is going to go through rehab and make it. Often they fail many times. They still have just as much right to be treated with dignity as anyone else. Yes, there are lots of other people who are trying to do the right thing etc. and you will find many other options for such people. The people who go to St. Anthony have run out of options. That doesn’t mean they should be turned away.

    • Nancy

      if you re-read the story you will find the answers to your question on where they get the alcohol. The cost is simple, Hospital is for Profit, big profit and that is where they end up. The people in the real world are still able to get help and have homes….these folks do not, they are the lost souls who for what ever reason can not stop drinking, it is all they have.

    • Dr. D.

      They have to find the money themselves for the alcohol. Many of them find recyclables to generate a little cash for their alcohol. It is not just the cost of detox that is being looked at but also the cost of numerous arrests for drunk and disorderly as well. They may die due to their alcoholism, but they may also finally “hit bottom” and decide they do not want to die and really commit themselves to treatment and becoming sober.They have to find the money themselves for the alcohol. Many of them find recyclables to generate a little cash for their alcohol. It is not just the cost of detox that is being looked at but also the cost of numerous arrests for drunk and disorderly as well. They may die due to their alcoholism, but they may also finally “hit bottom” and decide they do not want to die and really commit themselves to treatment and becoming sober.

      • Jay Z

        If people are continously being enabled to live a destructive life style I don’t hold out hope that they will realize or care when they’ve “hit bottom”. They have basically “hit bottom” now if they are living there.

    • Hank Goodness

      Detox $215 anight, amulance ride, $1000.00, emergency room, $1500.00
      St. Anthony Residence, 3 meals warm bed, secure place to live, priceless

    • Tammie

      The stay at detox is 3 days.

    • Richard

      Alright, I’ll explain it to you.
      First, re-read the article. A couple of your questions are answered in the article.
      Next, not everyone is curable, plain and simple. It’s just not going to happen.
      We, as a society, not you individually, have decided that we are going to do something as human beings. That means, we are not going to kill them because they won’t stop their habits; which is what doing nothing is the same as. So, we know they are not going to stop, and we are not going to let them freeze to death, or die some other gruesome death. We know the cost of their visiting detox or an ER is very expensive. The reason detox is expensive is that by statute and policy, detox centers have to provide a higher level of medical care, and by the time they arrive at a detox center (which they don’t go to on their own), they many times need expensive medical care. They have have been in fights, or have open and infected wounds, frostbite, etc., which has to be treated by law. That’s where a lot of the expense comes in. As an alternative, the system in the article provides an environment where a lot of that expensive medical care is eliminated because they have a nurse available, and for many of them, the availability of a clean bed in a warm room is attractive enough that they will take it as long as they can still have their little piece of comfort in this world, their drink.
      Yes, there are others in this world who are trying harder. Lucky them. Lucky you that you haven’t had this habit; but then again, I would bet you have some habit in your life that I could find fault with also; but I don’t. It truly is the luck of the draw (the family you grew up in, your early life, even your genetics). It’s just the way it is.
      As a society, we don’t kill people because they don’t work, or aren’t capable of learning, or can’t be rehabilitated. This is a safe, humane, and acceptable alternative.

      • Lee

        You are so wrong it is unbelievable. You are why these people find themselves in this situation. You contribute to their bad habits. You allow their bad habits. You encourage their bad habits. The only thing you said that is somewhat agreeable is that we all have bad habits. The difference is that you think society should accommodate bad habits. Hell, I think life in this guy’s shoes is better than my own. I get up every day and go to work so he can reap the rewards of my hard work. He gets to go where he wants when he wants. He has all his meals paid for. He somehow even has the money for one of life’s little pleasures. A case of beer to get hammered with. I am stuck working all week while he steals my beer money. I want to get drunk all day. I want to have a cig hanging out of my mouth all day. I want a free place to live, free food to eat. Now that I think of it, yup, I quit, I’m going to go live on the street so i can blame everyone else for my problems and get free everything with absolutely no production. Everybody can be reformed; they just have to make the choice. If they choose to continue their bad habits, well, that their choice, but don’t ask me to contribute to it, because I care too much about you to let you go down that path. If your child is a meth head without a job, are you going to give her money to continue to get her meth since she is now addicted? Well Dad, I tried to quit, but it is easier to keep doing it, give me a hundred bucks so I can get more.

    • Chanda Hadlock

      Its not just the cost of detox, but the cost of hospital stays and arrestes. It costs tax payers less to provide chronic addicts with adequate housing, food, and medical care than to foot the bill for multiple detox admissions, hosptial stays, and jail or prison time. Of course the programs do not supply them with alcohol and most do offer some support groups. Living in these conditions would give some the impetus to change and certainly takes the “glamour” out of the addict lifestyle. It can’t be easy to watch your peers deteriorate around you and still not be able to stop, staff are available for referrals to treatment when a client wants to try again. Most of these programs don’t actually allow alcohol on the premise however residents can be under the influence while there, which is in direct contrast to most shelters where you are not permitted to enter if you are under the influence. This keeps people off the street and reduces crime.

  • Dianne St John

    Everyone deserves to die with dignity not matter type of problems they have in life. We cannot judge what their relationship with God may be. Alcholism is an illness and with some cannot be cured. I applaud Catholic Charities for this concern for this population.

    • Eartha

      Well said

  • Ann Heydt

    I think this is a good idea. It’s a last resort for these guys and it is a compassionate response to providing a basic housing need. I respect Catholic Charities for doing this ministry. Thank you for doing this story.

  • Connie Paulson

    Finally! A humane program for people with long term addiction and no where else to turn. The cost to humanity and the pocket book is less too!

  • Pam Goerges

    Really pretty sad to hear that this is funded with county & state dollars when programs (D.U.I. Court) that are truly working to help the still suffering alchoholic struggle daily to get funding from the same resorces. Where is the balance? I fully understand not dieing on the street. But we must also have the funding to help better the lives of those who truly want to change!!

    • Tammie Komer

      DUI court- Please what a waste of taxpayer dollars. Talking from experience here.

      • abusing days behind me

        Agree myself too – as a 4 time DWII – DUI abuser it was a total waste of $$$ for everyone.
        The internal light bulb turned on in my skull in 1979 and I woke up. Last use of anything other than aspirin was 3/18/1979. Thanks to all who supported me !

      • Been there and saw that

        Agreed, as someone that has retired from law enforcement the whole DUI situation is a money maker for courts, lawyers and the officer on overtime. People don’t confuse someone that has a DUI with being a chronic alcoholic. Truthfully most DUIs are a momment when someone has used poor judgement not someone who has a chronic abuse problem.

    • mamatellie

      This is NOT funded with any tax dollars….it’s funded through CATHOLIC CHARITIES. NOT THE GOVERNMENT. RELAX.

    • Richard

      We already have those funds. Why you chose DUI court as an example of a program that helps alkies is beyond me, unless you don’t understand the system. The courts pronounce judgment and REFER people. They don’t treat people. I think you really need to spend a few hours and understand the operation of your community, our society, the courts, and get to understand the nature of man. This is not a perfect world. We deal with what nature gives us, and that includes people who do not have all the abilities necessary to make it in this society. If you are looking for ‘balance’ (whatever you define that to be), why do you think it is a requirement? There is no ‘balance’. Never has been, never will be. That’s the way life is. Get over it.

    • Sandy

      Pam, this is not funded with county and state dollars

    • edward oleander

      Pam, please understand that providing a place to die is not the facilities *only* function, and that they save money in the long run. Just as Detox keeps people out of the ER in the short term, St. A and the other wet houses help reduce ER costs in the long term. Neither the hospitals nor taxpayers can afford excessive use of the ERs…

  • Dan Feneis

    That’s nothing.

    We have one in St. Cloud that cost 4.71 million dollars to build for 40 residents. The cost every year to run it is approximately $5 million. What’s wrong with this picture? I wish the media would contact me.

    • Richard

      You missed the obvious. THIS ONE IS RUN BY A PRIVATE CHARITY. Yours is run by the ‘guberment’. (Intentionally misspelled.)
      The article wasn’t about yours. Instead of the media contacting you, why don’t you contact Catholic Charities and see if they would be willing to take over the ownership/management of your facility?
      Stop the squacking, and do something yourself!
      So many of the people who are against programs like this will never actually DO SOMETHING themselves to solve problems. They think someone else will do it instead. You are just as much part of the society as anyone else. (It’s not dissimilar from those who don’t want to pay their share of taxes, and haven’t served in the service or any other contribution to the nation. They must think this country is a free ride for some reason.) DO SOMETHING!!!

  • Tammie Komer

    Yes- This is something that should of been happening along time ago. Whether some people believe it or not. Alcoholism is a disease in some people and they should not be treated any different then someone with lets say cancer. Alcoholism has killed everyone in my family. My 28 year old son will be next. I lost a 23 year old niece and my 46 year old sister. My dad, my grandparents. You have these counselors (recovering alcoholics themselves) at these treatment facilities telling family members to kick their loved ones out on the street, they say “they have to hit rock bottom”. That is such a crock to me. Believe me every chronic alcoholic is at their rock bottom, they do not want to be sick all the time. I made a vow that when my son dies from his disease. I am going to sue the federal government, alcohol is their baby. If the government can sue the tabacco industry, I should by god be able to sue the alcohol industry to killing everyone in my family. You do not want to get me going on alcohol. That is one fight you will not win with me.

    • Chanda Hadlock

      I’m sorry for your losses Tammy, please know that the chemical dependency field as come a long way in the past 20 years, not all counselors are in recovery, some are helping professionals who want to help people escape from addiction. You’re right, “hitting rock bottom” is a crock and you’ll be happy to know is no longer the recommendation. Currenlty most providers believe you can intervene at any point and of course prevention is the best place to start. Your son is not dead yet, there could be some hope for, however he will need to come to that realization on his own. I would suggest you look into Alnon or at the very least find a way to have your personal needs met outside of the family and addictions. Good luck.

    • Ruth

      Have you thought about Teen Challenge for your son? I t has helped many quit. The program combines discipline and Biblical principles. If he has the desire to change his life, it would surely be worth trying!

  • nick schommer

    Catholic Charities seems to understand a deeper meaning of Charity.
    There but for grace go I.
    I am comforted that at the end of the line there is some compassion.

  • Julie Jackson

    Of course you want an alcoholic to get help, but if they don’t want help, have tried rehab over and over, and they just can’t quit – how incredible for that person and their family to know their loved one has a warm and safe place to sleep. Imagine your loved one is an alcoholic and out on the streets tonight with -35 wind chill…do you want to find out days or weeks later they froze to death in an abandoned home, under a bridge, alone and then to wonder if anyone was with them, did someone steal what little they had left after they passed away. This is so much more humane than to have them live on the streets in fear and such a comfort to the families to know their loved one was safe, protected, and warm.

  • Fred Crea

    Thank you for showing this enlightened program. it is a humane and practical way to deal with some of the people who cannot or do not want to stop drinking. There are and probably always have been some severely dependent souls. What is fascinating is that some cut down or even quit drinking when given permission to drink.

    • Margaret J.

      Actually Fred, we need more of these facilities!!!! The courts and the system wastes so much money on so many of these chronic alcoholics by saying they need to go to treatment, commitment etc.

  • Mikkel Beckmen

    Thank God for programs like this. They save tax payers money, provide some dignity, get drunks off the street and out of our hair, less trouble for the police who can fight crime etc. i hope support for these programs continues. i know that without it they would all go back to the streets, using the Emergency Room ($2,000 per night), Detox ($130 per night) crowd the shelters & jails. Alcoholism is a terrible, sad disease and sadly, not everyone stops drinking.

  • Jay Z

    Catholic Charities should be promoting the preseveration of life not allowing someone to slowly kill themselves! As a recovering Alcoholic and Addict I find this to be an outrage! Someone with a history of suicide attempts would not be left alone with anything that they could use to kill themselves, so why is this OK?

    • Joan Lee

      There is much talk about Catholic Charities funding this. This is erroneous. Ramsey county contributes 50%. The men who live there are also on taxpayer funded GMAC. Part of this goes to the home and the rest is taxpayer funded “spending money”. There is a hospice onsite at St Anthony’s where the residents go to die and they are allowed to drink there.

    • Hank Goodness

      Cancer treatments dont cure everyone, and neither do all substance abuse treatments. You cant save everyone, but you can sure help those that cant help them selves. Start 12 steppin brother, because but for the grace of God, there go you

    • Richard

      I too am an alcoholic with decades of sobriety.
      Since when, or better yet, who told you that you could take someone else’s inventory?
      Congratulations on your sobriety. You are among the lucky. Not everyone is lucky. They still deserve a safe environment.
      If you don’t like this system and you believe you have the right to control one of these alkies lives, why don’t you get in your car, drive down to their location and volunteer to take one home to live with you?
      I didn’t think you would. So get real. They have gone through many, many, many treatments at $40,000 a copy; and they are not going to stop. They simply are not as lucky as you. What’s wrong with allowing them to live out their lives the best they can. It’s not YOUR ‘best’, but it is for each and every one of them.

    • Sandy

      Jay, remeber in the book it states that there are some unfortunates, well that is who we are talking aboutl. I also know of people that have gotten sober after living in St Anthony so it does serve a purpose.

  • Ron B

    I find the whole thing perplexing. On one hand the kind thing to do is to give them aplace to drink and be relatively safe whil allowing them to die a slow death of their choosing. The other hand is this just another enabling thing to keep responsibilitt from being enforced.

    If Catholic Charities can get doantions and not take tax dollars for this program, God bless them and carry on.. However if this is being subsidized by the government in the form of taxation. THEN HELL NO!!

    The best answer to keep the drunks from freezing is to institute a new form of social program that involves a Bus ticket to s southern state and a firm promise of lengthy time spent in hard labor if they return to the state…

    Alcoholism is a “disease” or rather a mistress that one volunteers for. The bottle does not sneak up and ram itself down one’s throat….

    • Richard

      Your comment, “Alcoholism is a “disease” or rather a mistress that one volunteers for. The bottle does not sneak up and ram itself down one’s throat….” obviously shows you have no idea what it’s all about.
      Let’s say it’s cancer instead of alcoholism. And let’s say it’s you, instead of them. And the doctor tries to stop the cancer and it’s too late. You lived a righteous life, you did the best you could, you weren’t perfect, but you kept trying. But it’s simple, you’re dying, slowly. How about we throw you out? We could pass judgment on you that you can’t contribute any longer. You had a few bucks in your life, but the last 4 surgical attempts on the cancer wiped that out, and now you need hospice or in-home health care. Should we turn our back on you also?
      Ron, there is no difference. You just had a good life, at least in your opinion. There are probably others who think you didn’t do as well as you should have. But they are not going to demand you die a painful death. Our society is going to do what it can to give you some comfort, no matter how you lived your life. If you don’t want to be part of such a society, then leave; but that’s how we do it here. I was a combat soldier in Vietnam. I saw and was part of some horrific events. But one thing we never did was leave someone behind. It was an oath to each other, an ethic. You would do well to learn what that means. Someday, all of us, including you, will need the support of those among whom we live. I’ve found over my 60 years of life, that in order for a person to walk away from another, they have to believe that other person is subpar in some respect. They are not. They just didn’t get the breaks that you did.
      Most of you conservatives like you claim to be ‘good christian people’. Your voice position seems to contradict the qualities of such beliefs. So which is it for you???

      • Ron B

        I grew up with alcoholism in my family. i watched as my family and extended family sufferred from it and died from it. Some broke free from the mistress of the Bottle some embraced her and then died prematurely. Alcoholi is a mistress that takes over lives, it is bidden into your life and makes no effort to come in…

        I beg to disagree with you Richard. The “disease” begins as a choice in the heart to date this mistress and to take her home. If she is left to to do her will and allowed her free reign she kills.

        The problem with alcohol is that once it is removed from the alcoholics life and able to be kept away the alcoholic may recover. However there is a point of no return where the Mistress has destroyed the body to the point where there is no return and the alcoholic dies.

        This is not the case when these guys are being given a flop house supported tby taxpayers to slowly destropy themselves.. Unlike cancers Alcoholism can be cured. I have never met a cancer patient who kept coming back to the caner because it felt good….

        I said earlier it is a point of real perplexion.. Where do you draw the line on treating the afflicted and facilitating their demise as a in de facto accessory?

    • edward oleander

      Ron, perhaps YOU should take a one-way bus trip…

  • shane

    I can’t see myself agreeing with this at all I am a recovering alcoholic of over 3 years. I lost everything I had includeing my home but I found the AA program and it has done so much good in my life. These people living in this place know they should sober up to get there life back on track. All this place is doin is enableing them to drink they will never change now. There is reall help out there I’ve seen people I never thought would clean up become very succesful people. I believe its wrong to spend that much money to enable people to keep throughing there life away.

    • Ron B

      I am glad you are on the way to recovery. It takes courage to admit it.. And motivation to do something about it. Keep it up and be well and may God Bless you…

      This “charity” s basically writing them off and denying these men a chance to be well again. This is just a slow death sentence imposed in the name of charity.

  • antiidiot

    hello my friends thank you for being the first string of posts i have ever read on here where there isn’t one idiot. i kept reading these posts looking for the idiot because there is always one, but this is the first time there has been no idiot. i can’t believe it. maybe they are having a meeting on how to be more effective at ruining these comment boards attached to internet news postings.

  • JMac

    You are so missing the point. This program is a great relief to so many. Cops are so tired of detoxing the same folks over and over. It was a costly cycle. And we are not talking about going and looking for them under bridges. It was calls to beaches in the morning, parks all day long. Passed out in the public restrooms or next to the wadding pools. Talking to the individuals, I learned they tried rehab and could not break their habits. Trust me, this was a great idea formed by the people on the front lines. And bless those employees at the wet houses, taking care of the sad realities and all the messes that family members are overwhelmed with. Kids should not be exposed to this.

  • Tammie

    There are 2 kinds of alcoholics, chronic and abusers. Chronic = incurable. abuser = people that drink to get drunk and have a good time. The chronic alcoholics are the ones that will die. AA does not work, jail does not work. Nothing works because it is a disease in some people. Do you really think someone wants to be homeless? Sick all the time. This is not a joke. To a chronic alcoholic, their alcohol is what water is to a dog. They crave it and they have to have it.

    • Looking

      Tammie, you read too much, but don’t think.

      • Tammie

        @ Looking- Yeah I’ve probably spent a year at least reading on alcoholism because it has affected people in my family for years. And I do think. Anyone who thinks alcoholism is not a disease does not know what they are talking about. There are studies that are being done that are confirming that it is a disease (in some people). Why some people have a hard time believing that does bother me because I’ve been living with people my whole life that are affected with it. Most have died but there are others that will die. So for you to tell me I don’t think tells me that you are one of the ignorant ones when it comes to alcoholism.

  • shane

    So wrong u don’t even know

    • Tammie

      @ shane- what is so wrong?

  • Suzanne Wilson

    I live with a chronic alcoholic. Nineteen treatment programs,living in halfway houses, attending AA meetings, losing jobs and eventually losing family has not been successful. I whole heartedly support the program I watched tonight. Being safe in a caring environment….priceless!

  • Gin

    This report left me confused. I have a family matter that had many years of alcohol but never gave up on him. I wonder is this how it works for other addictions too. If one is using drugs or other, then it’s ok to supply the drugs. I understand the shelter and understanding but enabling the addiction seems wrong. Is there a limit to how much they can drink? It seems they are already physically and mentally disabled so we add to that pain. It leaves me saddened that their effort to make a few $ the only pay off would be a bottle.

  • Monica Nilsson

    I have a suggestion. Support housing that people with a small income: a low paying job, $203 monthly state assistance or $674 if you have a permenant disability, can afford when they leave treatment at age 20, 25, 30. The youngest guy in that wet housing is 45. All too often, people graduate from treatment and aftercare and end up under a bridge, in a shelter or couch hopping. Imagine the success if, instead, we drove them from treatment to housing they could afford (and ideally gave them a bus card to get to church, to job interviews, to volunteer, to AA meetings. Instead, they end up in the pit of hell where survival is the only meaningful daytime activity and we’re disappointed that street medicine rears its ugly head. And imagine the women! 2 of the 4 sites in Minnesota don’t take women. It’s scary to think of the added cost (let alone trauma) a drunk woman alone on the street faces.

    • Hank Goodness

      Catholic Charities has lots of supportive housing for men, women and children. Unfortunately these men dont qualify for that type of housing. How many times in these mens lives do you think that their family and friends have driven them to and from treatment and back home again, before thaey finally gave up and had to put them out of the house. Your idea is not a novel one and has been exhausted by everyone

  • skeptical

    Is stealing and panhandling o.k?

  • donald

    They don’t drink everyday, And I know that treatment doesn’t work for everyone, I know I’ve been in and out of 6 treatment houses, 20 half-way houses and board and lodges for over the past ten years and I still want to drink. If these kind of places run that cheaply, it sure would save the state a lot of money. Most of the people I’ve known in treatment centers go back to drinking or druging any how. I think the % of people that stay clean after treatment is only 5 out of 100, so I would think that there is a need for more of these places. The only true way to stop some of them from drinking is don’t give them any money, don’t let them get a job or collect any welfare and give them only food and a warm bed. I living in a board and lodge now and have no money so I haven’t had a drink in a year. And the state is paying $846.00 dollars a month for me to live here. I get 89.00 a month for personal needs, but have to pay over 69.00 for my deductible for my meds. You couldn’t get too drunk on 20.00 a month. plus they have rule were I live, no drinking is allowed. Hey if it’s stopping me why not others. And I smoke.

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