Anishinabe Wakiagun, Minneapolis, MN

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Best Practice | August 11, 2006

Anishinabe Wakiagun is notable for two reasons: the population it serves, and the funding sources it uses. The men and women of Anishinabe Wakiagun are among the hardest to serve as they are long-term homeless and chronically addicted to alcohol. In exposing the problems experienced by this population, advocates were able to secure a funding source from the state, that, to many outside of Minnesota, may seem expensive, but which actually saves the state and Hennepin County money.

Program Overview

Anishinabe Wakiagun provides permanent supportive housing in a wet/dry facility to 40 late stage chronic inebriates. The program is intended to "minimize the negative consequences of the residents' drinking patterns, while providing a stable, culturally appropriate living environment which encourages a reduction in alcohol consumption." The program also intends to reduce the public costs of providing services to their population. It has a staff of 13 people.

Target Population

Anishinabe Wakiagun targets late stage chronic inebriate Native American men and women. The target group has: entered a detoxification center twenty or more times in the last three years, attempted chemical dependency treatment twice or more, deteriorated physically due to alcohol use, experienced homelessness for the majority of the past five years, and proven incapable of self-management due to alcohol use. Residents' average age is 45. Anishinabe Wakiagun accepts referrals from other area service providers, through self-referral, but most often through project staff's relationships and outreach.

Project Description

Anishinabe Wakiagun does not require sobriety of its residents, nor are residents required to "progress" in a clinical sense. The only thing asked of residents is that they do not act violently or damage the facilities, and that they treat other residents and staff with respect. It is expected, however, that residents will be able to overcome some of the debilitating consequences of their alcoholism. The facility provides housing and case management. Each resident has his or her own room, but shares dining and bathroom facilities. Each resident receives case management services, health services (both on- and off-site) and other support services, as desired. Again, residents are not required to follow any rigid cirriculum or treatment, and are free to stay as long as they choose to. Average length of stay is 27 months.

Overcoming Barriers

A major barrier to operating this program was its cost - $15,256 per resident per year, for a total annual budget of $650,000. Only 10% of the residents receive SSI payments and the other 90% have no income at the time of intake. Anishinabe Wakiagun is funded by virtue of the fact that it is cheaper than maintaining homelessness for this population. Hennepin County conducted a study on costs of detox and recidivism which found that detox for this population, at over $180 day, in addition to other social services used, was considerably more expensive than providing housing and services. In 1994, three chronic alcoholics cost Hennepin County an average of $85,000 each for continuous revolving door medical assistance.

Anishinabe Wakiagun gets $40,000 from the Hennepin County Office of Chemical Health, $80,000 from HUD, and the rest from the Group Residential Housing Program (GRH), a program set up to respond to the needs of low income people who are placed in a licensed or registered setting. GRH eligibility includes automatic eligibility for medical assistance and pays $1,219.50/ month/resident to Anishinabe Wakiagun. According to Kelby Grovender, the program director, without GRH Anishinabe Wakiagun would not be able to provide the housing and services it does. For more information on GHR, go to www.dhs.state.mn.us

Program Results

According to cumulative data collected by Anishinabe Wakiagun, the project served 151 residents from 1996-1999. Of these, 8% became totally sober, 60% stayed over one year, 78% over six months. In an analysis conducted by the Hennepin County office of Policy and Planning, researchers examined data on residents' service use before and after entering Anishinabe Wakiagun. Prior to moving into Anishinabe Wakiagun, residents had an average of 18 detox episodes per year, which accounted for 42 days. After entering Anishinabe Wakiagun, this number dropped to 2.5 admissions, or 6.3 days, on average. The number of admissions to the hospital emergency department declined close to 20% for those with emergency room visits within the past year. Further, while 61% of the pre-Wakiagun admissions were noted as alcohol related, only 38% of the post-Wakiagun admissions were noted as alcohol related.

For More Information, Contact:

Kelby Grovender
Anishinabe Wakiagun
1600 East 19th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55404

(612) 871-2883
(612) 871-0803 Fax