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SF Supervisor Proposes “Wet Housing” for Alcoholics

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A San Francisco Supervisor is exploring a novel and controversial way to deal with drunks on the street. Supervisor Bevan Dufty says he wants the city to consider opening “wet housing,” where alcoholics could live and drink.

Dufty is heading to Seattle with a health department official to explore that city’s “wet housing,” which is sort of like residential methadone clinics for alcoholics.

“They actually have 100 units of housing, which is really focused and medically supervised for people who are chronic inebriates, and they actually dose alcohol,” said Dufty.

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Every few hours, the people who live there are given their alcoholic drink of choice. They pay rent to live in the house. Seattle says it’s working with fewer E.R. visits, fewer arrests, and less trouble caused by inebriated people living, and drinking, in public.

“These are folks that are going to do this regardless, but they’re going to be on the street and getting injured, getting into fights and getting into jail, instead of something that’s managed in a more coherent fashion,” said Dufty.

Public health officials aren’t sure yet if the idea would fly here, and it’s bound to generate opposition if Dufty likes what he sees in Seattle and wants San Francisco to try it too.

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