“A Home For All Those Ignored”
When one thinks of a homeless person, images of alcoholism, and substance abuse appear in their head. A person laying on a park bench, passed out with a bottle in hand. Wet House programs are growing rapidly in the United States aim to treat this homeless alcoholic issue. Wet houses provide a room for homeless, chronic alcoholics. While these homes may appear to be akin to normal shelters, wet houses, as the name implies, allows its residents to consume alcohol while staying in the house. Therein lies the controversy, why should state governments be funding these shelters? The reason being, wet houses actually help reduce: the cost taxpayers have to pay for the trouble they get into, and the drinking habit of these alcoholics (which tends to decreases while they are in the house). So while wet houses do not seem like a real solution, the reality is, they are the lesser of two evils.
People that live on the street often have a substance abuse problem, alcoholism being the majority. Due to this these people often get into trouble with the law, stealing from others to get their next bottle of booze. According to the PubMed branch of the National Center for Biotechnology Information, about 15.3 percent of the US jail population is/was homeless, most of them were placed in jail for a “property crime” (Greenberg, and Rosenheck). If homeless people had a place to stay, like in a wet house, they could get three square meals a day, and a roof over their heads. While they do receive this in jail, it also costs about $109 a day to house a person in a jail (Albert 12). This is in contrast to the average $50 a day in a wet house (Welch, and Escobedo). These Housing First programs also keep alcoholics, form using other costly public services, such as; hospitals, detoxification programs, shelter use, etc. (Larimer, Malone, et al), all of which cost more to use than a wet house. Many wet houses are funded in part by various charities. The St. Anthony wet house (in St. Paul, MN) is “partly funded... and operated by Catholic Charities” (Welch, and Escobedo). and Even though they do not seem to be an admirable solution to getting chronic alcoholics off the streets, Housing First programs appear to reduce the amount of taxpayer dollars spent on homeless alcoholics. An aspect that's always pleasing to see when reviewing the effectiveness of a public program. For in a study performed by JAMA, researchers placed a group of chronic alcoholics in a Housing First facility, over several year researchers saw that before the study group was placed in the house, they ended up cost in their community about eight million dollars by using various public services. After the study that number dropped to about four million dollars (Larimer, Malone, et al). So it would appear that wet houses are beneficial to the community they are in. While these results seem to be a godsend, one may think about, exactly what type of people could become residents in a wet house.
In most Housing First facilities, potential residents need to fit a certain amount of requirements: they must be homeless at least four times, they must have attempted a treatment numerous times, and they must be people of a certain age (Jensen). All potential residents must also be chronic alcoholics. As the list of requirements implies, the type of people that wet houses attract are those with serious issues. Thoses who have gone into treatment usually drop out or relapse, they have a slim chance of recovering from alcoholism, being so entrenched in addiction. Even the big book of the AA calls these chronic alcoholics “unfortunates”, or “Those who do not recover”(A.A. 58). The “unfortunates” will most likely end up homeless, and most have already sought help in the form of expensive detox…