Back in 2010 we first heard about the push to open a 'wet house' in San Francisco, modeled on a similar one in Seattle, in which homeless, chronic drunks can live in peace and drink without the obligation of seeking treatment, and while being monitored by staff. Dufty first took a trip to Seattle's 1811 Eastlake two years ago with then mayor Gavin Newsom, where the program has successfully saved taxpayers millions by keeping these alcoholics off the streets and preventing them from being a drain on ambulance services and the like.
As the Chron point out in a piece about Dufty's latest, third trip to Seattle on which he took a contingent of S.F. folk including people from the Hotel Council, the SFPD, and the Coalition on Homelessness our city already allows drinking and drug use in residents' rooms in certain supportive housing facilities, but those residents' drinking isn't monitored by staff. A so-called 'wet house' would permit drinking in common areas, and even allow staff to go on booze runs, but only using the residents' own money. Advocates for such programs say that these alcoholics are more likely to seek treatment once they've been off the streets for a while, and that in any event, existing social services don't seem to be helping most of these people.
It was said that in 2009, 225 of San Francisco's street drunks accounted for 2,000 of that year's ambulance calls, for which taxpayers footed the bill. And these drunks account for some $13 million annually in enforcement of alcohol-related crime, care, and recovery services.
A proposal for a 'wet house' in S.F. is not likely to see the light of day until 2013, and where it would be located is still anyone's guess.