While the housing agency follows current best practices by getting homeless clients into stable housing before addressing their other issues, the Rescue Mission requires sobriety before housing and other help.
But the Rev. Larry Arce noted in the Nov. 29 Bee article that the chronically homeless who are sent to detox before accessing Rescue Mission services often drop out instead of staying sober, creating a revolving-door situation. Perhaps that’s because the Rescue Mission is putting the cart in front of the horse.
People don’t randomly become alcohol or drug addicts by accident or for the fun of it. They are usually self-medicating to escape some deep psychic pain. So requiring sobriety before helping clients with their pain is pretty tough on this vulnerable population.
Other successful programs that I’ve read about, including a Mormon-run one in Salt Lake City, Utah, require clients to follow rules such as no loud noise at night, no theft, etc., while stone-cold sobriety is strongly encouraged but not absolutely demanded.
Susan Weikel Morrison, Fresno