The ongoing success of the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) across the Western Territory has seen countless individuals recover from addictions, reconnect with families and take steps to rebuild their lives. An amazing program, the ARC aims to prepare addicts for re-entry into the community.
A recent article discussed a number of initiatives that are being implemented to build bridges between members of the Corps and graduates of the ARC. Educational workshops are currently being rolled out, teaching Officers and Soldiers about addiction, recovery and the development of constructive relationships within the Corps. It is hoped that this education will help to breakdown stereotypes and lay the foundations for ARC graduates to feel a real sense of belonging within the Corps community. As Commissioner Knaggs says, “these are our people.”
As previously stated, whilst belonging to a community is vital for recovering addicts, research shows that addicts have the best chance of long-term sobriety if they are able to secure ongoing employment and have access to a safe, sober living environment.
Within the Western Territory, studies have shown that following the initial, six-month phase of treatment at the ARC, only 10% of ARC graduates remain clean and sober after one year. However, this figure increases to 69% if graduates remain at the ARC for an additional six months, and to 86% if graduates gain steady employment and have access to a sober living environment for two years.
Apricot Consulting has been meeting with advisory board members to tackle the issue of employment for ARC alumni. A program is to be implemented that will allow for online storage of resumes, highlighting the skills and experience of ARC graduates. It is hoped that board members and the wider Corps community will also begin to think about their own personal and professional networks, and be intentional about providing introductions to prospective employers where appropriate. After all, the cornerstone of William Booth’s early strategy “In Darkest England and Way Out” emphasized “work for all”, a Salvation Army commitment that continues today.
Likewise, the Salvation Army hopes to reach out to the community about housing opportunities for ARC members once they leave the residential facility. Today’s housing market has made it particularly challenging for the Salvation Army to purchase properties for sober living purposes (however, Territorial Command is still open to this idea). A more affordable option at this time involves leasing properties through the rental market.
However, some property managers may be reluctant to lease a house for the purpose of accommodating addicts in recovery. Due to stereotyping and a lack of awareness, some may in fact believe that their investment houses will be exposed to vandalism, theft and a lack of respect for property.
In reality, proposals made by the Salvation Army to lease housing pose no threat to property owners. Indeed, landlords will know more about their tenants who have just exited the ARC program than they do the average renter. Firstly, residents are not permitted to use drugs or alcohol. Residents have established themselves as law-abiding citizens. Residents must undergo regular urinalysis and breathalyser testing and are required to work and pay for their own living expenses. Residents are also required to keep their living quarters clean and tidy and there are no pets allowed. There would be no additional costs to housing owners, as rent will still be paid in full by the Salvation Army.
With regards to rental costs, residents of each property must pay ongoing program service fees that cover the monthly rent in its entirety, making the transaction cost neutral for the Salvation Army. The reason for referring to this cost as a ‘program service fee’ rather than ‘rent’ relates to the strict rules and regulations provided by the ARC. If an individual breaches any of the program rules they may be evicted from the property by the Salvation Army. However, if direct rental transactions were made between tenants and their landlord, a landlord would be unable to evict a tenant for breaching rules outlined by the ARC program (e.g. bringing alcohol onto the property).
Each sober living facility will be assigned a resident manager to supervise the behavior of all tenants to ensure that the rules and boundaries previously enforced at the ARC continue to be upheld. These rules are designed to aid the recovery process and are strictly enforced. In the absence of the resident manager, tenants will also be held accountable to each other. Those living in sober housing will likely continue to enforce the rules set by the ARC, as the behavior of one can negatively influence the recovery of others.
Ideally, it is hoped that the Corps will be responsible for finding and developing sober living accommodation and turning it into a ‘home’. This move is likely to grow the Corps population by boosting a sense of engagement and belonging among residents who will also be encouraged become a part of the Corps community. However, it is advised that professionals from the ARC maintain control of housing supervision and regulation, as the ARC consists of trained staff who are experts in addiction and recovery and are able to easily identify problematic behaviors and scenarios.
Today we are writing to all Salvationists; Officers, Soldiers and Adherents, to remind our community about classic Salvation Army Mission, helping to bring wholeness in body, mind and soul to those in need. By leasing investment properties and/or providing introductions to those who can, you can be engaged in the healing process of recovering addicts and help them as they journey towards a self-sufficient and drug-free life.