Wet house plans moving forward

A controversial project we first told you about last week is moving forward and moving quickly.

Greg Stone, a local addiction counselor is the man behind a proposed wet house in Traverse City. He hopes to have it ready by this winter.

"My dream is that we find something before snow flies. I dread the thought of another alcoholic dying in the snow passed out because he didnâ??t have a place to go. It makes me sick." says Greg Stone.

A wet house is a monitored program designed to deal with homeless alcoholics. It's controversial because the home allows residents to continue drinking and many susbstance abuse counselors promote abstinence only programs. Stone says there are a handful of homeless individuals in Traverse City that have serious addictions. Many of them are not allowed at local shelters because of their drinking.

7&4 News is told that a steering committee made up of about 20 community members including police officers, Munson ER nurses, and area church leaders are giving input along the way.

Cecil McNally, Goodwill Inn Executive Director and steering committee member says, "We see this as an option to help the hardest to serve. We are interested in discussion."

It's a discussion they hope will lead to fewer homeless people passed out on the streets, visiting the emergency room, or locked up. In fact, Stone says local jail costs alone have exceeded $56,000 so far this year. 19 homeless people have accounted for 1,006 jail bed days.

Stone says, "Literally when these wet houses open, the problem almost disappears."

A bold statement, but one that is backed up by a YouTube video shot in Duluth Minnesota. It shows first hand how a wet house there has impacted the community.

Duluth Police Chief, Gordon Ramsay says, "We thought we would have a lot of problems around the facility and that it would be a drunken zoo. We monitored it for the first couple months but it was a waste of time. We had no problems."

While wet house advocates back here at home are hopeful it will be up and running this winter, there's still a lot of work that needs to be done. Advocates still don't have funding or a location.

The Traverse City Planning department tells 7&4 News that it would take them at least two months to review a plan and create zoning regulations.