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Dufty Proposes San Francisco 'Wet Houses' For Chronic Alcoholics

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – San Francisco's newly appointed director of HOPE, Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement, is looking to provide housing where some of the city's most chronic alcoholics would be allowed to drink.

Former San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty said the idea, typically referred to as a "wet house," is a safer and cheaper way to have alcoholics drinking in a controlled environment, as San Francisco spends about $13.5 million a year on the top 225 street inebriates.

KCBS' Anna Duckworth Reports:

"That means that we're spending money on emergency services, ambulances, shelters and jails, all of these ways that we're spending money that are not really productive and not having good outcomes," he said.

Dufty is basing his plan on a pilot program that has operated in Seattle since 2005, where employees don't stop residents from drinking. Instead, that program has found that counseling and support often helps cut the number of drinkers.

"What we saw in Seattle is that after a few months, 10 percent of the people that lived in wet housing became clean and sober," said Dufty. "And I couldn't imagine not drinking and living in that environment, but they do."

After one year of the wet house program in Seattle, a University of Washington study found the city had saved about $4 million.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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