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Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage



Seattle, Washington Permit No. 1830


A Publication of the Downtown Emergency Service Center

Mike’s Story: Putting a face to Housing First

Help stop duplicate mailings. If you receive more than one copy of CornerStone, please send an e-mail to or call 206.515.1518. Thank you. continued from page 1 (From the Executive Director) of our housing projects: 1. People are moved into housing directly from the streets and shelters without requiring that they accept treatment. 2. The housing provider is obligated to bring robust support services into the projects, services that are predicated on romancing the resident into a clinical relationship, not coercing them. 3. Continued tenancy is not dependent upon the resident’s participation in services. 4. Units are targeted to and prioritized for the most vulnerable members of our community. 5. Programs implement a harm reduction approach instead of mandating abstinence. 6. All residents have leases and tenant protections under the law. 7. Housing First can be implemented both in a projectbased or a scattered-site model and promotes client choice. DESC’s 1811 Eastlake project has been lauded as our region’s purest expression of the Housing First philosophy. Be on the lookout for the upcoming release of our Report to the Community which will describe all of the outcomes from 1811 Eastlake’s first year and will highlight the tangible benefits of a Housing First philosophy. •

It was ten years ago that the Lyon Building opened its doors, offering comfortable apartments, nutritious meals, and 24-hour support services to a particularly vulnerable group of people: those with long histories of homelessness who were also living with HIV/AIDS, chemical dependency, mental illness or some combination thereof. Mike lives with all of these Mike celebrates ten conditions. years of living at the In 1997, when Mike Lyon Building was invited to become one of the first residents of the Lyon Building, he had been homeless off and on for more than a decade. “It was overwhelming,” he says, “I’d never had my own space before.” A former sailor with the Navy, Mike ended up on the street after the relationship with his partner fell apart. Addicted to heroin and crack, he found out he was HIV positive and spiraled into a devastating depression that led him to wander back and forth across the continent and up and down the coast.

ISSUE # 16 /SPRING 2007


> Mike’s Story: Putting a face to Housing First > From the Executive Director > DESC’s Medical Director receives Del Kole Award > Better services mean safer streets > DESC in the neighborhood > A community comes together > Thank you to our contributors > New job skills open doors to recovery > Five year milestone of safe shelter for Seattle’s most vulnerable women

From the Executive Director

DESC could not be successful without the extraordinary support we receive from the community throughout the year. Volunteers, individually and in groups, contributed over 5,800 hours of their time and effort to DESC in 2006, and contributions of in-kind goods - everything from toothpaste to blankets and file cabinets - totaled almost $140,000.

Chronic homelessness is a common thread in almost all of our residents’ histories. Most of our residents have several failed attempts at housing before moving into a DESC building. One of the biggest reasons people succeed in DESC supportive housing is because, unlike many low-income

For more information, see “How to Help” at, send an email to or call 206.515.1517

Time after time, DESC has demonstrated its expertise in successfully housing those whose chronic homelessness, addiction or mental illness have led them to be considered a “lost cause” by traditional housing and service providers. One of the biggest reasons for our success has always been our pioneering belief in the Housing First philosophy. We are excited this idea is now gaining traction both locally and nationwide as a best practice for bringing homelessness to an end. Housing First is based on two core beliefs: that housing is a basic human right, not a reward for clinical success, and that once the chaos of homelessness is eliminated from a person’s life, the other areas of their life will stabilize all that more quickly and their successes will be all the more enduring. We can all imagine how much easier it is for people to get clean and sober or address a mental illness when they aren’t spending all their time worrying where they’ll stay that night, where their next meal is coming from, or how they’re going to keep themselves safe. There are seven principles that define the concept of Housing First, and DESC adheres to all of them in every one

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Members of the Sigma Beta Rho fraternity joined residents and staff of the Union Hotel to turn an empty gravel lot behind the building into a flourishing community garden.

“Housing is the key to managing the other problems we have... When we’re housed, we aren’t ending up in the emergency rooms or the mental hospitals.”


2007 spring cs pdf  
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