BRC is constantly creating new ways to help reclaim lives lost. Dale, a resident of BRC's recent innovative initiative known as the Safe Haven, showed us just what can happen if we think outside the box. Read on for Dale's story, and follow this link to watch the story as reported by Melissa Russo on NewsChannel4: BRC's Safe Haven client moves into permanent housing.
Fifty-eight year old Dale has lived on the streets for more than a decade. He served in Vietnam as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps and worked as a delivery man for many years after he returned from service. While Dale's life was unstable after the war, one thing remained constant for the next forty years: his powerful addiction to alcohol.
BRC's Street Homeless Outreach team met Dale four years ago when he was living on the streets of New York City. This meeting was the beginning of a long-term relationship, in which the BRC teams met with Dale regularly. Dale was always cooperative and friendly, and even agreed to go to detoxification and drop in centers. However, he always abandoned his placements in less than 24-hours, feeling too strongly the pull of his illness; he had to have a drink.
The traditional models of treatment and shelter were not working for Dale and many others like him. BRC noticed this and working with the New York City Department of Homeless Services, developed the Safe Haven with support from the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City and a grant for the Betty and Norman F. Levy Foundation. The Safe Haven meets the needs of people like Dale, for whom alcoholism had been a barrier to getting the help they wanted and needed. BRC's Safe Haven is a low-demand environment that does not require sobriety to enter, only the willingness to pursue permanent housing options. BRC and Dale decided that he would be a good match for the Safe Haven, and he moved in on December 3, 2006, shortly after it opened.
At the Safe Haven, Dale worked with his case manager to find permanent housing, reconnect with the Veterans Administration, and stabilize his health. He also obtained an identification card and activated his Public Assistance benefits. During this time, Dale began drinking considerably less. These are remarkable feats for a person who had been homeless for 11 years and alcohol addicted for decades. But Dale also managed to accomplish the extraordinary: obtain permanent housing. Dale interviewed and was accepted at BRC's Clyde Burton House, a supportive housing program with 33 studio apartments for people over the age of 55 that affords both independence and a sense of community to its tenants. Earlier this week, after more than a decade on the street and just 128 days at the Safe Haven, Dale moved into his own apartment. We congratulate Dale and everyone at the Safe Haven for their ongoing achievements.