Housing For The Homelessness and Addicted

Housing Broken Down By Needs:

Note: I have stayed in a number of these types of housing within the last two years. Each has its benefits and risks, but they are options to save your life. The housing defined below differ by state and country. If you need housing, you should inquire using the Internet, Social Services, and by asking people on the street.

These definitions are taken from Visions Journal based in British Columbia, Canada

Permanent: Long-term housing with no maximum length of stay.

Transitional: Time-limited, affordable, supported, or independent housing. Tenants can usually remain in transitional housing for up to 2 or 3 years.

Emergency: Short-term shelter for people in crisis. Some emergency shelters also provide meals and support services to the people who stay there.

Supported: Affordable housing where the tenants have access to support services in addition to housing. These services vary and can include:

  • Life skills training: income management, job training, medication management
  • Medical care
  • Social activities
  • Problem substance use rehabilitation programs
  • Case management

Abstinence-Based or Dry Housing: Housing where tenants are not allowed to drink alcohol or use other drugs while in tenancy. Tenants are expected to be “clean” before moving in and actively working on their recovery while living there. Tenants may be discharged from the program if they refuse treatment for a relapse.

Low Barrier Housing: Housing where a minimum number of expectations are placed on people who wish to live there. The aim is to have as few barriers as possible to allow more people access to services. In housing, this often means that tenants are not expected to abstain from using alcohol or other drugs, or from carrying on with street activities while living on-site, so long as they do not engage in these activities in common areas of the house and are respectful of other tenants and staff. Low-barrier facilities follow a harm reduction philosophy.

Wet Housing: Housing where tenants are not expected to abstain from using alcohol and other drugs, and where entering a rehabilitation program is not a requirement. Tenants have access to recovery services and get to decide if and when they use these services. Wet housing programs follow a harm reduction philosophy.

Damp Housing: Housing where tenants do not need to be “clean” when entering the program but are expected to be actively working on recovery from substance use problems.

Scattered Site: Housing units are spread out in apartments in various locations around the city rather than all in one common building. These apartments may be either market value or social housing.

Dedicated Site: Housing units that are placed in a common building where all the tenants are part of the program.

Private Market: Traditional rental housing that is run by private landlords rather than a housing program.

Subsidized: Housing that receives funding from the government or community organization. Tenants who live in subsidized housing pay rent that is less than market value.

Social Housing: Housing provided by the government (public housing) or a community organization (non-profit housing).

Public Housing: Housing that is owned by the government.

Non-Profit or Community Housing: Housing that is run by a community organization.

Single Room Occupancy (SRO): Small, one-room apartments that are rented on a monthly or weekly basis. Tenants share common bathrooms and sometimes also share kitchen facilities.

Hardest to House: Refers to people with more complex needs and multiple challenges when it comes to housing, such as mental illness(es), addiction(s), other conditions or disabilities, justice-system histories, etc.

Group Home: A home that is shared by a number of tenants who are generally expected to participate in shared living arrangements and activities. There is usually 24-hour support staff on site.

Other Important Terms

Harm Reduction: A philosophy that focuses on the risks and consequences of a particular behavior, rather than on the behavior itself. In terms of substance use, it means focusing on strategies to reduce harm from high-risk use, rather than insisting on abstinence. Abstinence is neither condoned nor condemned. Instead, it is considered one strategy among many others. Underlying harm reduction is the acceptance that many people use substances and that a drug-free society is both an unrealistic and impractical goal. With regard to housing, harm reduction means that tenants have access to services to help them address their substance use issues. It is based on the understanding that recovery is a long process, and that users need a stable living arrangement in order to overcome their addictions. The focus is on being healthier rather than on the unrealistic goal of being perfectly healthy right away.  Wet and low-barrier housing above follow a harm reduction philosophy.

Concurrent Disorders: When a person is diagnosed with two or more conditions at the same time. Concurrent disorders is used to describe a person with both mental illness and substance use issues. (Dual diagnosis, which also means co-existing conditions, tends to be used to describe a co-existing mental illness and a developmental disability.)

Absolute Homelessness/Living Rough: People are considered absolutely homeless if they have no physical shelter at all. These are people who are living on the street or in emergency shelters.

Relative or At-Risk of Homelessness: People who are living in sub-standard, unstable or unsafe housing. This includes people who are “couch surfing,” which means they are staying with family or friends, living in trailers, doubled or tripled up in small apartments or living in unsafe and unsanitary conditions.

Definitions taken from “Housing and Homelessness” issue of Visions Journal, 2007, 4 (1), pp. 5-6

Think addiction is a victimless crime? Watch this video of an infant in withdrawal.

Brian graciously said yes to my request to write this guest post.  This is something that has rattled me to my core, and this post allows me to voice my thoughts. Thank you, Brian!

Note: Before you do anything, view the video at the top of this article, The Most Vulnerable Victims of Addiction, from Reuters.  Read the article too, then come back here and read my take on the issue.

Yes, it’s hard to see, isn’t it? But we need to be strong enough to face reality.  So, if you need to, take a breath. Have a cry. And ask yourself, is it ok that this is happening? Can anyone honestly argue that substance abuse is a victimless crime?

I can’t get the image of the baby with the shakes out of my head.  I can’t get the image of a high mother putting her baby in the washing machine along with the dirty clothes out of my head. I can’t and I won’t because it’s remembering these images that remind me of how very important it is that we pressure our government officials to make policy changes that will protect the well-being of these innocents.

If you think addiction is a victimless crime, you’re wrong.

I’m a mother, a grandmother, and aunt, an educator, and a social activist. My goal in life is to leave the world a little better than it was than when I entered.

As an educator, I’ve taught youth with addictions, and I’ve taught youth who’ve been victims of addicted parents.  I referred the addicted students to counseling, but there wasn’t much I could do about the youth who were victims of addicted parents.

Here are two stories from my life:

Vivian and Michael:  A close friend of mine has custody of two of her grandchildren. Vivian and Michael have the same mother but different fathers.  I’m pointing out the parentage not to judge the mother but to make a point about the effect of substance abuse on infant development. All three parents were heavy drug users at the time of conception and throughout the terms of the pregnancies.  Vivian (who is as vivacious as her name implies) is now 9 years-old and is a struggling learner. Her eyesight is severely impaired  (she can see with strong glasses but is considered legally blind). She also has a number of learning disabilities including ADD, language impairments, short-term memory and working memory impairments, and more.  Michael, a rambunctious 3-year-old, is deaf in one ear and has apraxia.   Both children live with their maternal grandmother because their mother was abusive.  The mother now is drug-free and has a third child (by another father who was not a drug or alcohol user), and this 1-year-old child is healthy, thriving, and is developing normally.  Happily, the mother also seems to have her abusive tendencies in check now that she’s clean.

Note: Obviously, there’s no way to concretely show that the difficulties Vivian and Michael live with are the result of their parents’ substance abuse.  But the fact that the youngest child is developing normally sure makes it look as if drugs had something to do with those challenges Vivian and Michael face.

Kimberly: I taught Kimberly when she was a high schooler. Kimberly’s mother was an alcoholic and had an infant with fetal alcohol syndrome. Kimberly, who was 15 when I met her, had a number of learning disabilities and struggled daily in school. However, her biggest challenge was that she had to get up at 4 am every day to deliver newspapers (this was in the 90s when people still got newspapers delivered).  She then would return home and take care of the baby.  Then, once her mother was awake and coherent, Kimberly would come to school. This meant she was usually late, often missing the first class of the day.  She would get assigned detention for missing class, but she’d skip detention because she had to return home to take care of the baby. She couldn’t do her homework because she had to take care of the baby.  She’d get suspended because she’d miss detention, but that just meant she spent more time taking care of the baby.  Kimberly’s teachers (myself included) worked really hard to support Kimberly, and eventually she did complete high school.  The year after graduation, she committed suicide. Without the support of the school community, life challenges weighed too heavy on her.  I never did find out what happened to her baby sister, but this article in the Washington Post gives me a sense of what might have been her fate.

We know about neonatal abstinence syndrome (what happens to babies born to opiate-addicted mothers).  We know about fetal alcohol syndrome. But it’s obvious that being pregnant isn’t going to stop a substance abuser.  If it were, pregnancy would be touted as a cure for addiction.  And as this (2010!) NPR story shows, we also know that people do get better and children can survive these awful starts if they are given the supports they need.  And that’s the key — changes must be made if the littlest victims are to have half a chance.

We know all these things, but what are we doing about it?


The Real People You Read About

Note: I have written a profile of the “Real People” mentioned in this blog. Their profiles are an attempt to help you imagine each individual as I encountered them. The personal descriptions include their addictions, beliefs, interactions with others, locations, and some history. You should understand that the profiles contain vivid descriptions and are not intended to be offensive; please read, Living In a Shelter or Safe House: Good and Bad.  

                             The People Who Have been Part of Both Paths

Brian Masters: See-How the Author’s Path Started

Mike Garrison: Mike and I have known each other since high school. Mike is a white male, about 5 feet 6 inches tall and athletic. Mike can talk about almost all subjects with the people he meets, especially sports. Mike lived the wild and fun life of the 70s, the married life of the 80s, raised a good son and maintained high technology sales positions. Through the experiences of his friends, Mike became knowledgeable about alcoholism and heroin addiction. Mike is one of the supporters who has saved my life.  Wrong Decision

Liz Garrison: Liz was a friend of Mike and me from the 80s and later married Mike. Liz is white, has blue eyes, and average height and build. She is artistic and has a taste for travel. Well educated, Liz understands addiction and its potential destruction.  Wrong Decision

Jim Goodman: Jim has been a solid friend since high school. Jim is white, roughly 5 feet, 6 inches tall, and average build. I feel that there is no animosity between Jim and anyone he meets. Through his career, Jim built a significant grocery store services business in upstate New York. Like Mike, he can communicate with a person from the street or who is a multi-millionaire. Over time, Jim became a self-made millionaire, but if you met him, you would not know it.  Wrong Decision

Jane Sellers: Jane is my niece, and she is a strong advocate of my family’s heritage. Jane has blond hair, blue eyes, and pretty features. She is a mother of three, works as a marketing director, and holds her chin up. As she witnessed my change due to environmental events and my genetic makeup, Jane stood by me. Wrong Decisions

Greg Sellers: Greg is a retired Lt. Commander in the USNR. While serving during the war, Greg was on a guided missile destroyer. He is a professional in the software industry and is raising his family in Long Lake, New York. Greg and Jane are happily married. Greg has helped me a great deal and it says a lot about his character, because Greg is not a blood relation. I would have to say that Greg and Jane are supporters who helped save my life. Wrong Decisions

Hank Fox: Hank is a man who speaks with is heart. Hank is white, approximately 5 feet, 10 inches tall, a strong build, and a great golfer. He knows about but has not experienced addiction. He is the type of man who will stick with you because he has an instinct for people’s personalities.

Lisa Fox: Lisa is a teacher for children with special needs. She is white, has blond hair, blue eyes, attractive figure, and has a happy personality. Hank and Lisa have three children, and they are happily married. Lisa understands addiction as well as what depression can do to a person.

Virginia Dwyer: is a white woman in her late 50s. She is blonde, 5′ 6″, hazel eyes, slender, and fairly athletic. She was a high school teacher and now is a researcher at a university. Virginia is a person who should have followed the path of addiction, IF you support the environmental study of addiction behavior. Yet, she did not do so. KEEP READING. She and her husband, Rob, spend a lot of time hiking, biking, skiing and so on. They have two children and two grandchildren. Virginia met Brian when she started dating her husband, so she’s known Brian all her adult life. Virginia’s maternal grandfather was an alcoholic and died young from alcohol related illness. Many other members of her mother’s family also were affected by Substance Abuse Disorder, and many died young. Her mother might also have been an alcoholic, but Virginia isn’t sure because her mother abandoned the family when Virginia was 7 years old. Her father also drank too much when he was younger and would become abusive. Her paternal grandfather was also abusive when drunk. What saved Virginia was that she was sent to live with a distant relative when she was 8 years old. When she was in her teens, her father’s life stabilized and he married a woman who helped him live a better life. Virginia’s faith in herself, marriage to a good man, and hope directed her to the right path. Rob and Virginia have two beautiful young adult children–the age group this blog is all about. Infant in Withdrawal – It should be a crime

The People I Encountered at the Beginning of My Path to Addiction

Terri Halford: Terri is a woman who lived in the Leoardville area. She is white, 5 feet 9 inches tall, has brown hair, and an attractive face with a fully shaped figure. In her mid 40’s, she can hold her own with any man. When I thought about mild drugs, she was my go-to person. Divorced with one teenage boy, Terri has held jobs at country clubs and restaurants in the kitchen, bar, and as a server. How the Author’s Path Started – Brian Masters

Mary Hamill: A special education teacher with a great personality. Mary is divorced with 3 teenagers. She is about 5 feet 2 inches tall, has brown hair, is in her mid 40s and only thinks of bringing her kids up right. Mary is good friends with Terri. How the Author’s Path Started – Brian Masters

Carrie Perrone: Divorced mother of 2 boys in their 20s. With a dominant ex-husband, Carrie was ready to breakout and be with new men; especially if they had a million dollars. She is an attractive redhead, white, 5 feet 10 inches, and dresses to attract.  She also can work heavy industrial equipment. How the Author’s Path Started – Brian Masters

Randy Landers: Randy is tall, out spoken, loves women, and has a strong athletic body for a man in his 60s. Randy is white, 6 foot 2 inches, and is on the aggressive side when he is drinking. He was a large real estate owner and had money. How the Author’s Path Started – Brian Masters

Patricia Landers: Patricia Landers is a mother of a teenage girl. She is friends with Carrie. Although Patricia is married to Randy, Patricia, and Carrie reinforce each other’s desire to be young again. Thus their ideas created actions which created unfavorable results. How the Author’s Path Started – Brian Masters

John Ouelette: John is a specialized accountant who is single with no children. John is 5 feet 3 inches tall and no good in a fight. The rumor was, John was the one that Randy Landers was really looking for when I was attacked. How the Author’s Path Started – Brian Masters

Esther Blackman: Esther is widowed with a son who just graduated from law school. Esther is 5 feet 2 inches tall and white. I met Esther over the internet while looking for a woman who had very little drama. Esther was looking for long-term security, emotionally and financially. While learning about each other, Esther was supportive and promised me a place to stay. Unfortunately, Esther came into contact with the drama people from the Thanksgiving of 2007 and my on and off drinking. My relationship died a fast death. Turning Points or Choices that Lead to Decisions

Paul at Davis-Baker Hospital: Paul is a strong, athletic young man wearing a red crew cut, white, 6 feet 1 inch tall, and approximately 25 years old. I met Paul on July 29th, 2014 at the Davis-Baker Hospital. Paul lived with his mother and had an an attractive, blond-haired, girlfriend who would visit him at the recovery section of the hospital. Due to their accent, I am sure they were both from Quasqueton, Massachusetts. Paul’s mother committed him to the hospital so he would learn and turn away from the path of alcohol and heroin. Both Mike and Liz Garrison met Paul and his girl friend while visiting me. Both couples and I agreed that enough was enough. Paul and I left Davis-Baker Hospital with clear eyes and determination. An Event that Haunts Me

People at the Paladin Safe and Sober Place

Tim P.: I met Tim in the fall of 2014. Tim is 54 years old, white, approximately 5 feet 10 inches, and needs dental work. Tim has a very friendly personality, plenty of common sense, reads constantly, and he had lived in the local area when he was sober. Tim is a skilled mechanic who lost all his tools due to a divorce. Tim’s path was alcohol.Living In a Shelter or Safe House: Good and Bad

Andy P. (Tim’s son):  Tim’s son worked at one of the top 4 leading grocery store chains in the area. At the age of 25, Andy had not chosen an addiction. I know his father’s influence prevented him from a path. Andy mentally functions at the age of a 16-year-old. I reconnected with Tim and Andy at a Rothville hotel in late spring of 2015. All was good with them.

Carlos: I met Carlos in the fall of 2014. Carlos is from Cuba, works with his hands on carpentry, is approximately 5 feet 4 inches tall, and quick with a smile. Alcohol is Carlos’s addiction which keeps him living pay check to pay check. Living In a Shelter or a Safe House: Good and Bad

Alan: Alan came from an upper-class, white family. Though he had a brand new 2014 car, he would use it to sleep during the day. Alan would occasionally shower, shave, or clean. He would perform his house chores and obey the house curfew in order to have a roof over his head. Alan wouldn’t talk with anyone except the house managers (who had been ACTIVE addicts at one time). Alan was scary.

Note: When you are at a safe and sober house, there are rules you must live by. If you disobey any of the rules, YOU WILL LOSE THE ROOF OVER YOUR HEAD. A few of those rules are:

  • You are not disruptive
  • No fighting
  • No threatening
  • You must leave at 8 am and can return by 3 pm (the times varies from place to place)
  • No drugs or alcohol
  • No coming to the house under the influence
  • Clean your body
  • and more

Ruff: Ruff is an extremely well-built black gentleman. He is roughly 6 feet tall, was addicted to alcohol and heroin, and found religion. Ruff and I went face-to-face one night, but we both realized it was a stupid thing to do; we apologized to each other. I consider Ruff a gentleman. Ruff knew far more than I did and taught me do not be disruptive. Every Sunday, Ruff would talk on the phone with a young adult; he would review her homework and  scriptures in the Bible. Ruff made sure that the young adult had a chance against making a bad choice of the path! 

Note: Remember, no matter how good a person you are, you must look out for number one!

When I returned to the house for my clothes after I had been evicted, Ruff and Carlos saved most of my stuff.  Gary had stolen a few items. But Ruff, literally, stood behind Gary and forced Gary returned my most expensive, blue, dress shirt. JUSTICE was served. Living In a Shelter or a Safe House: Good and Bad

Melvin: Melvin is a happy-go-lucky gentleman who had a temper. Melvin is 5 feet, 8 inches tall, black, overweight, great cook, and has a wife and child. Melvin’s father was military, and the family traveled the world. Melvin was honorably discharged from the Navy. Melvin worked at one of the top 4 grocery stores in the area and was promoted while he was there. Melvin loved women and women loved Melvin; it is amazing what happens in the halls of a retail establishment. The last I saw Melvin, he had made a choice to correct his path, moved in with his wife and child, and was happy. Living In a Shelter or Safe House: Good and Bad

Thomas: Thomas is white and was new to the house. He was the guy who liked to push your buttons. When you are on the street, a thief will look for cell phones, chargers, etc. in order to pay for drugs. Thomas was such a thief.

Lu: Lu is a white guy in his 20s, 5 feet 9 inches tall, thin, needs front teeth work and had a red goatee down to his chest. Lu had come off the streets of Nipmack, begging for a place to sleep. The house had an open bed, so the sober organization of Nipmack got him the room. Lu had no income source that we could see, but the rule is, “ask no questions.” After overhearing a conversation between Lu and Gary, I realized they sold their bodies for money. Quotes: “How much did you get?” “30 dollars?” “Why?” “Hey, I was lucky and I could have used powder to find the pussy?” Living In a Shelter or Safe House: Good and Bad

Gary: Gary came into the house two weeks after Lu. Gary is 5 feet and 10 inches tall, white, has black hair, needs front teeth work, and smelled. Gary bunked with Lu. It was not hard to realize that Lu and Gary generated income the same way as well as selling heroin. Gary knew the street and thrived on it. Living In a Shelter or Safe House: Good and Bad

Note: Lu and Gary are a perfect example of the subculture. I learned a lot about the negative influence of the subculture by watching Lu and Gary befriend Andy P. at the house. They were constantly talking to and advising Andy; Andy’s personality began to reflect the negative influence.

The Real Young Adults Mentioned in “Death-End of the Road”!

Young Men in the End of the Road

Darrel Fox: Darrel is the son of Hank and Liz Fox, mentioned above. Having been raised in Sangerfield, New York, Darrel is one of the 9 close friends. He was and is a happy go lucky man, who has good friends and loves the outdoors. Under the covers, Darrel is a hardworking and very compassionate individual. He values his friendships, family, and human life. This is apparent by sharing his experiences with others; the passing of his friends. He does not want you, your family, friends, or partners to take the “End of the Road” path. Death-End Of The Road

Rick: Rick was a popular guy with his friends. He was more of a “thinker” by himself but very outgoing with the group. People looked up to Rick.

Bobby: Bobby was shy but held his own with the group. He had a hard time mixing with the ladies but came into his own later on in his short life. Bobby was sure of himself, yet went along with the crowd. He had a good soul and was a true friend.

Mark: Mark was the ladies man. You would call him a leader in the group. Outgoing, quick thinking, and brought the ladies and materials to the party. As time went on, Mark stayed, the ready for fun guy. But Mark’s family were left with the final decision, no one wants to make.

     SCARS – The Pistol Wiping Scar

Fred: Fred is a white person, 6 feet 3 inches tall, well spoken, and he had friendly mannerisms. He was living in the shelter system in order to have a roof over his head and buy time for his leg to heal. Though he rubbed elbows with the Subculture, Fred was not part of the Subculture Definition of Subculture. I believe that is why we got along so quickly. I allow him to show me some ropes but I never let my guard down. For example, you timed your shower time and you gave no quarter. When the big guys beat on the smaller guys, you let it go. I have fought many men over the decades in Martial Arts. You get sense for the real thing in people-good and bad. Fred was on the good side but you did not mess with the man. I hope he mended and went back to working on trucks with his brother in Massachusetts.







Medical school opioid prevention: On the right track, but the needs are NOW!

Young people and adults who are not using addictive drugs and or have depression need an eye opener before control is lost. I have lost two friends just this year from either depression, drugs, or both. I speculate that if they touch real life experiences of peers, their paths might be changed. Mandatory courses, starting in high school, and meeting survivors, and visiting shelters and detox hospitals could change a person’s path.

The intention of  medical schools to teach new doctors about opioid prescription and addiction should be embraced. We can not afford to let two to three years of medical training go by before potential victims succumb to addiction caused by genetics or the environment. According to the article, Continue reading “Medical school opioid prevention: On the right track, but the needs are NOW!”

Police can be Saviors

If you take the path of homelessness and addiction, you will be in dangerous situations with the law: Either needing the law’s help or breaking the law. Living In a Shelter or Safe House: Good and Bad

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, the police have played an important positive role in a few of my more dangerous experiences. I’m not the only one. Here are two real life examples of police assisting homeless in need. Continue reading “Police can be Saviors”

Wrong Decision

As time went on, I continued to stay with family, friends, and in my car. Living with family and friends can only go so far. At this point, even the closest people do not need to see depression and drinking (D&D) increase. Fact is, they will distance themselves from you. A common statement I would hear was, “We would like to see the person we knew 3 years ago.” Hell, I wanted to be the old me.

Continue reading “Wrong Decision”

Living In a Shelter or Safe House: Good and Bad

Note: I feel I need to be specific about race, age, nationality, and gender when I describe people who are in the journal. My intention is not to be offensive. My intention is the truth–like a movie script that describes the character except these people are real.

One year ago, I was living at the Paladin in Rothville–a safe and sober house that holds only men. My room had 10 men. Types of Housing Defined There was a very strong Black person with a good attitude, one Portuguese man who is a master cook, two Latinos who were teaching me Spanish, one Black vet with a positive family background, one mentally ill white guy with a drooling problem and a wealthy family,  two white guys in their twenties (20s), one white father of one (his son lived in the other room), and me.  See The Real People you Read About for detailed descriptions of these individuals.

Continue reading “Living In a Shelter or Safe House: Good and Bad”