Last week a reader commented on seeing a woman at a table at 23rd & Union, handing our information and cookies. That woman is Laurie Hanowell, program coordinator for the Get Off The Streets or GOTS program, which has been doing weekly outreach to addicts in the Central District since 2006.
As we reported in our story last fall, a study found that they can take drug users off the street, get them stable housing, put them in treatment, and turn their lives around for an average cost $2,845. But yearly budget issues limited the potential of the program and created a long waiting list for people who wanted to get help.
But according to Kay Godefroy, Executive Director of the Seattle Neighborhood Group (SNG) which runs the GOTS program, an additional $70,000 in the 2010 budget and a promise of more budget stability in the future has made a big difference. There are now 39 clients in the program, up from 19 at the end of 2009. Each of them is getting set up with a place to live, drug treatment services, group counseling, and other programs that specific participants may require.
Hanowell says that a key feature of GOTS is its wrap-around nature. Housing and food support give clients a stable foundation where they can concentrate on staying clean and sober. Then they can keep up with ongoing treatment, group support, and mental health services.
Consider this: last year GOTS served 62 people, almost all of whom were daily drug users along the 23rd Avenue corridor. As each one graduates from the program, they start a new life with stability, jobs, and without substance abuse and the crime that goes along with it.
Godefroy and Hanowell both say that last year’s drug market initiative has made a big difference too. SNG runs the treatment and services side of that program, and the positive experience of the DMI participants has generated multiple referrals among their network of friends and family. DMI also strengthened the relationship between SNG and the East Precinct Crime Prevention Team officers, who deal with street users on a daily basis and often refer them into the GOTS program for treatment.
Interested in helping out? Here’s some easy ways community members can participate: