The Native American House provides safe, clean and sober transitional housing with case management services for Native American homeless men. The magnitude and severity of substance abuse and mental illness is far greater among Native Americans than in the general population, and strategies that work for the general population do not necessarily work with Native Americans. Native Americans make up only 1% of the population of King County. However, they make up a disproportionately large percentage of the homeless and chronic inebriates. Of the chronic inebriates receiving treatment at the King County Sobering Center in 2008, 32% were Native Americans.
Native American House is not your typical transitional housing program. It is the first housing program in King County that serves Native Americans, is managed by Native Americans, and includes the use of Native American traditions and cultural norms as part of the recovery process. Native American House recognizes that creating a safe home for American Indians in recovery is an effective, dignified and culturally appropriate approach to helping American Indians in recovery. The success rate has far exceeded the initial goal of 50% of the men staying clean and sober at least one year when the men’s house opened in 2008.
When a resident moves in, they are given an opportunity for a fresh start. Staff works with each individual to identify what individualized services and support they need in or to become stabilized in their recovery. The program participants rely heavily on peer support and accountability. As the program participants grow in sobriety, they gain valuable life skills and address the barriers that prevent them from maintaining housing. As these barriers are addressed, they gain self-confidence and become more comfortable in our society. This program is ending homelessness for a growing number of men that have been ignored for too long. Successful participants gain employment, go to school, volunteer and reunite with family. More importantly, they regain hope along with dignity and pride in identification with their culture.