Individuals at Dutch Shisler Battle Substance Abuse and Homelessness

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Pioneer operates the Dutch Shisler Service Center in Seattle that provides a safe setting for people who are chronically homeless and inebriated to get sober and sleep so they do not end up in local hospitals and jails. The center serves 150 individuals on any given day. Saul Krubally is a Behavioral Health Clinician for Pioneer that works with Dutch Shisler clients and shared the unfortunate struggles and barriers that individuals face when trying to stay sober and recover.

Our clients with substance use disorders face many challenges and barriers when trying to move on from being chronically homeless. Finding a clean, safe and affordable place to live in Seattle is a major issue. We have helped many Dutch Shisler clients gain admittance into various housing programs in the area over the years, including Pioneer’s clean and sober housing and 1811 Eastlake, a program that provides supportive housing to formerly homeless adults with chronic alcohol addiction, however space is very limited. At the Dutch Shisler, we are experiencing an extremely high percentage of homeless clients – and that number is increasing every day.     

Pioneer’s staff is continually challenged and works with many homeless substance abusers at various stages in their life and recovery journey. There are many clients who have successfully participated in detox and a residential treatment program, but are still without housing. Sadly, most of these clients will relapse without a housing option due the hardship of having to live back on the street. They lose hope when having to once again face the daily battles of being homeless,” said Saul Krubally.

Clients with mental health issues and/or substance use disorders can be particularly vulnerable without housing. Pioneer staff focuses on finding appropriate housing options and works the referral system to try to secure housing options and prevent this population from being homeless. Our sobering center and various partners’ efforts to combat homelessness for our clients is a major priority and has shown to have a positive impact among high utilizer clients who are struggling with the combination of their mental health issues and substance abuse. 

The staff at the Dutch Shisler is working on a plan to expand their housing referral resources so more clients who are high utilizers can secure housing after completing inpatient treatment. Efforts are in place to prevent sober clients from relapsing and coming back to the Dutch Shisler. Our staff serving  clients in the high utilizer workgroup, refer clients to Seattle Housing Authority, clean and sober recovery housing  (Pioneer’s and other organization’s) in the County, and refer more of our clients to treatment and counseling programs (Pioneer’s and other organization’s) to ensure the clients retain their sobriety and are surrounded by support groups.

Krubally added, “Many of our clients’ want to stop using alcohol or drugs, due to the negative effects. They request detox, inpatient or residential treatment. However, without housing after treatment most of these clients experience relapse as soon as they hit the streets. The majority of our clients we serve need professional help and safe housing after many tries in detox and inpatient treatment. The combination of professional counseling and treatment, and affordable housing is the ticket to keep our clients safe and moving forward on their recovery journey.”