News 8 Investigates – Harm reduction program

The number of people living on the streets of La Crosse continues to grow. Some people choose to live on the streets. While others may be addicts who are not allowed to take shelter at the Salvation Army. News 8’s Lisa Klein continues to investigate the homeless issue in La Crosse. Tonight. she’s here to tell us about a *major* shift in how the Salvation Army of La Crosse will be working with the homeless. housing the homeless. The story showed pictures of people sleeping on the streets of La Crosse in the middle of the night. Some of those people were right outside of the Salvation Army. The organization has new leadership. and they contacted me wanting to address the images shown to the public. They are announcing a big shift in their emergency shelter policy in response to our report. Nats. :38. feet Lisa. These pictures of people sleeping on the streets of La Crosse are alarming for many people. Mayor. :08. We have a very significant and growing challenge to provide housing for folks. Lisa. This video was taken in July during a bi-annual count of the number of people who appear to be homeless and living outside of a shelter Kim. :10. It shows we have a real problem with people not getting what they need in our communities. Lisa. But these images, in particular, were difficult for the Salvation Army to see. Major Jeff. :40. It broke my heart to see on screen people sleeping on the ground outside of our building. It frustrates me. because we can’t open our doors in a new way to allow them to come in. It’s very difficult to see. Lisa. The Salvation Army is an international organization. Historically. they do not allow people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol to sleep at their emergency shelter. Major Jeff. :10. We’ve been using a breathilizer test to qualify someone for the shelter, and they have to blow zero, completely free to be admitted to the shelter. Lisa. But that’s about to change for the Salvation Army of La Crosse. Major Jeff. :28. We’re reviewing a system called the harm reduction model.// :47. We want to be able to take people in who are intoxicated or under the influence of all sorts of things and collaborate with additional agencies, hospitals, to better meet their needs. Nats. :28. Lift tarp. Lisa. So the organization started by partnering with the La Crosse Fire Department to tour what is known as ‘tent city’ located in La Crosse. Nats. :09. unzip tent. to get a better understanding of how the unsheltered are living. Major Jeff. :07. We’re an old organization. So in many ways we’ve become institutionalized and we need to be shocked a little bit to drive a change. And that’s what I’m hoping to do. Lisa. Armed with ‘out reach cards’ and some food to share with the homeless. the entire staff of the Salvation Army got to see. first hand. how our unsheltered are living. Nats. :47. This is actively being used by a female and a male. Lisa. And it was eye-opening. Major Jeff. :02. I think it’s time. it’s a wake up call for the Salvation Army to change some of our approaches, some of the ways that we look at things and help them survive in a better way. Nats. :29. Hello… Lisa. The Harm Reduction model could be the change needed to help some of these people get off the streets and into a warm bed. Major Jeff. :35. It really is a matter of people coming on board with it and embracing it and just education and I think we could role it out possibly after the first of the year. Lisa. In La Crosse. LK. N8. The new majors at the Salvation Army of La Crosse have been at that location since the end of June. ?Are there any other Salvation Army locations in Wisconsin that allow people under the influence of drugs or alcohol to stay at the shelter? The Harm Reduction model is already in use in Madison. and it’s working. Our local shelter hopes to work with the Madison shelter to learn what works and what doesn’t work when rolling out the new rules. They understand that safety is important when working with potential addicts.

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