Considered a public health crisis by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), opioid addiction affects people from all walks of life. It can take years to recover and relapse rates are high. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an average of 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. In 2018, more than 68,000 deaths caused by opioid overdose were reported.
The costs of the opioid epidemic are extreme, contributing to both social and economic burdens nationally. Not only are families suffering from the loss of loved ones. Individual taxpayers, health care systems and local municipalities are forced to bear the financial burden caused by the epidemic. Early deaths, substance abuse disorders, lost earnings and productivity losses to employers have impacted local, state and federal government through lost revenue. Overdose emergencies and emergency room visits have increased the cost of police, EMS and fire services in communities across the country. The foster care system is overwhelmed with children from families torn apart by addiction.
This complex problem requires a multi-pronged, collaborative strategy to help individuals and families on their road to recovery. A key element to this strategy is providing safe, supportive housing.
For more than 30 years, the Michigan Drug Courts have proven to be a successful approach to curbing relapse and recidivism rates for drug and alcohol offenders. Treating addiction as a disease rather than a criminal issue, the courts provide continuous and comprehensive interventions, treatments, and services to help people stay on a path to sustained sobriety with judicial supervision. During the history of the courts, the judges have found one of the biggest obstacles to successful recovery is housing. People in treatment often return to environments they lived in while using, triggering relapse.
Mike Hirst, a longtime recovery advocate who lost his son to heroin addiction decided to take on the growing opioid crisis in Michigan by spearheading the state’s first Permanent Recovery Supportive Housing (PRSH) initiative. The Michigan Association of Treatment Court Professionals championed his idea and a collaboration between Cinnaire, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), the Michigan Department of Health and Humans Services (MDHHS), and the Michigan Governor’s office advanced the program from concept to reality.
That concept became Andy’s Place, a 50-unit PRSH complex named after Hirst’s son Andy.
Andy’s Place in Jackson is the first PRSH development in Michigan, and the first in the nation, designed to address recovery holistically. Andy’s Place addresses the need for long-term safe, affordable housing paired with onsite support services for individuals suffering from opioid addiction. Research has shown that a key component to successful recovery is the restoring of families and this program allows family members to live together in a safe environment. Rent is based on income and individuals without an income don’t have to pay.
Andy’s Place offers comprehensive onsite support services, including case management and recovery programs funded and managed by the Michigan Drug Treatment Courts along with recreational and life skills programs, financial health and employment classes, and sober and wellness activities. The Community Action Agency of Jackson (CAA) partners with Andy’s Place to provide a variety of services for residents to achieve housing stability. CAA has formed partnerships with local business owners and manufacturers to provide training and job opportunities for residents.
Supportive housing is a known strategy, but what we’re doing is taking the model and twisting it to serve folks who are trying to recover from opioid addiction. The PRSH model is the first step in holistically addressing this crisis. With public and private resources, we can create affordable housing communities that not only allow those suffering to recover, but provide supportive services, job training and reunification with families.
Andy’s Place received widespread support from public and private sources, including investments from local, state, and federal partners. The $13 million project is funded through a public-private partnership that includes investments from Cinnaire, Huntington Bank and MSHDA.