SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – San Francisco’s newly appointed director of HOPE, Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement, is looking to provide housing where some of the city’s most chronic alcoholics would be allowed to drink.

Former San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty said the idea, typically referred to as a “wet house,” is a safer and cheaper way to have alcoholics drinking in a controlled environment, as San Francisco spends about $13.5 million a year on the top 225 street inebriates.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

“That means that we’re spending money on emergency services, ambulances, shelters and jails, all of these ways that we’re spending money that are not really productive and not having good outcomes,” he said.

Dufty is basing his plan on a pilot program that has operated in Seattle since 2005, where employees don’t stop residents from drinking. Instead, that program has found that counseling and support often helps cut the number of drinkers.

“What we saw in Seattle is that after a few months, 10 percent of the people that lived in wet housing became clean and sober,” said Dufty. “And I couldn’t imagine not drinking and living in that environment, but they do.”

After one year of the wet house program in Seattle, a University of Washington study found the city had saved about $4 million.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (6)
  1. s.f. peaches says:

    I hope the public will be open-minded enough not to fight this. To most people it may sound outrageous, but it might actually work. The experience with the program in Seattle is encouraging.

  2. Howard Epstein says:

    An interesting idea that should be looked at.. Given what The City spends sending Fire Department para medics to pick these people up and transport them S.F. General where they dry out, this may save a bundle. I would give it a 1 or 2 year trial to see if it works.

  3. Choice says:

    Lets give it a try! I would like to know if it would help us here.

  4. RLM Stonebody says:

    Wow! I can get 60K a year and all I have to do is be drunk? Awesome!!!

  5. DOH says:

    Sounds like a fantastic idea. Give them all knives and put one bottle of vodka in the middle of the “wethouse”. Then repeat after they’ve all murdered each other.

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