S4R was founded by in 2007 by Tom Aswad, Amy Alanes and Judy Bastin. The founders met while serving on the Contra Costa County Substance Abuse Advisory Board. During their tenure, they routinely spoke with clients at treatment centers, assessing needs. What they discovered was that the majority of individuals leaving residential treatment faced serious issues once treatment was complete. Essentially there were no support services in place.
At one time, residential treatment centers provided transitional living components, but that was phasing out. Clients had few housing options, no funds to pay rent, and no means to be unified with their children. Recent data collected by S4R (from grant recipients) reveals that nearly 80% of individuals going into residential treatment lived in unsafe environments prior to treatment. This suggest that they have no housing options after completing treatment. They were scared.
With this being the case, once treatment is completed, the majority of residents face a real risk of ending up in a homeless shelter or sleeping on the streets. Securing a sober living environment (a safe place to live after treatment), is crucial. One shelter manager calculated that there was a mere 1-3% successful recovery rate (or a 97-99% relapse rate) for individuals who moved into the shelters after treatment. S4R became committed to improving opportunities for individuals to find housing and other recovery support services after treatment.
In the year 2000, the federal government, through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, began to look at funding grass roots organizations to improve issues around addiction and recovery. The Partners in Recovery Alliance (PIRA) was created to develop a strategy to execute this mission.* Tom Aswad served as a state/national liaison for PIRA. The program ran for about 3-5 years.
S4R’s original funding came from friends and family, local businesses (in-kind), and fundraising events (dinners, recovery walks, bike events and car washes). Early grants for housing were few and far between. In 2018, federal funding programs began to shift away from Block Grants and toward MediCal, freeing up some of the Block Grant funds. S4R approached the County of Contra Costa and was awarded its first contract, in the amount of $46,000. The first County-funded grant for rent at an SLE was in November 2018; the County currently provides the majority of the organization’s funding. In 2019 and 2020, John Muir Health provided $25,000 in grants to fund rent. It is unclear if this funding source will continue in the current COVID climate.
S4R is one of the two non-profits in Contra Costa County that provides grants for SLE rents that can be used at any qualifying recovery residence. (A few alumni associations at residential treatment centers offer grants from time to time). S4R has calculated that the grants provided by the organization cost less than 50% of the cost of a shelter. In addition to the cost savings, we see an improved outcome. As compared to the previously mentioned 1-3% successful recovery rate for individuals who moved into the shelters after treatment, Support4Recovery’s housing program’s success rate has been estimated at 56%, a significantly better result.
*see Contra Costa site for more: https://www.contracosta.ca.gov/Archive.aspx?ADID=411