In 2006, the Lummi Tribal Housing Authority established a Transitional Housing Recovery Program to address the need of persons exiting rehabilitation centers by providing tribal members with safe, clean, and sober housing in order to help the participants get back on their feet and re-establish themselves, while allowing them time to focus on their recovery efforts.
This program began because there are a large number of tribal members who were being discharged from inpatient treatment who did not have a safe and drug-free home to return to. The Lummi Housing Authority runs this program with cooperation from other tribal departments, including Employment & Training Center, Lummi Tribal Courts, and CARE (the on-reservation outpatient treatment program). They have developed a section of our Policies and Procedures dedicated to this program (Chapter 10 of the LHA Policies & Procedures).
Lummi Housing Authority is the stakeholder and financial source. The housing authority uses NAHASDA funding of $24,000 to pay a staff member to closely monitor participants, their Clean & Sober housing landlords, and treatment providers. One staff member runs this program. She screens all applicants, determines suitability, places them in Clean & Sober housing, monitors the progress of the participants, and provides participants with resources to help them continue to receive assistance from other agencies after the 6-month voucher program has ended.
To the best of the housing authority's knowledge, 72% of people who have participated in this program are now living a clean and sober lifestyle. Although only 50% successfully completed this program, many of those who relapsed during participation in the program have begun the treatment process again and are doing well. The Housing Commission has decided to continue this program and even expand it by teaming up with Lummi Family Services to provide on-reservation Clean & Sober transitional housing. This program will be sustained by using their NAHASDA funding.
Although incredibly successful and innovation, the program is not without its challenges, mostly involving social services. It is a challenge to check in with each participant on a regular basis, when they live in various Clean & Sober houses throughout the county. It is also a challenge to verify their treatment compliance each month, because their treatment providers are often hard to contact. And it is also difficult, because the relapse rate is so high.
The best lesson learned is to keep an open and ongoing communication with other resources providers (treatment counselors, landlords, other agencies) in order to provide wrap-around services. And the need to keep an open mind and be creative when developing programs that focus on making families and communities safer, healthier and drug free.