Seattle's Homeless Alcoholics on NPR

Wed, Jul 19, 2006

Coming in this morning, I heard a segment on NPR covering a unique program that King Country is running to provide rooms for homeless alcoholics in Seattle.  The unique and controversial part of this program is that the residents can continue to drink.

My wife, Rachel, has first hand experience with this problem from her work at the Harborview ER.  Some of these "frequent fliers" are indeed part of the community at the ER. In fact, one of the patients that Rachel had lots of interactions with (ever since she was a med student!) recently died and it really shook her up.  Anecdotally, Rachel has seen this program provide a positive impact.

In any case, this novel program seems to me to be a unique way to approach a very difficult problem.  It reduces the cost to the taxpayers and provides a safe place for these individuals.  Obviously we would all like to see these problems solved, but, failing that, at least the county is trying to manage it.