Greetings to all with the hope that we recognize and appreciate the many blessings bestowed upon us by our Creator.
Primarily due to changes within the Wisconsin Balance of State Continuum of Care’s (WIBOSCOC) implementation of ‘Landlord/Tenant’ rule standards for transitional housing, it is with a heavy heart that we must end the Lazarus House transitional living program after twenty years of operation. The Continuum of Care will no longer allow us to immediately terminate a resident for alcohol/drug use, criminal activity, or abusive behavior while in our transitional living program. They will allow us to do so in a 30-day format similar to standard property rentals, but that format and duration can and would be abused. We have lost a means of recourse by removing the offending resident who is impacting the other residents’ sobriety and well-being. This is not a HUD issue as they recognize us as a ‘Sober Living Facility’ and our rights for immediate resident termination, based on rules compliance. We have reviewed with WIBOSCOC the applicable regulations and providing revisions to our resident rental agreements and house rules, but they prefer the ‘One Size Fits All’ landlord/tenant rules and are adamant that we cannot immediately terminate an offending resident based on those rules. We have formally petitioned the Wisconsin Division of Energy, Housing and Community Resources (DEHCR) but they will not overturn the Continuum of Care ruling. Since we are no longer in compliance with WIBOSCOC rules, we lose all Wisconsin Housing and HUD funding that is controlled by the State.
As you are aware, Lazarus Foundation has been a Janesville, Wisconsin outreach ministry, in partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee, since 1997. We have provided safe, comfortable and clean transitional housing, plus ongoing Case Management and life-skills continuum placements, for 64 at-risk homeless adult men with alcohol/chemical addictions and professionally ‘dual-diagnosed’ with non-violent mental health conditions since our founding. There were no great ‘victories’ with addictions recovery and entry back into society, only day-to-day successes. At this writing, we have two residents in recovery; one is employed full-time, one is employed part-time. We notified them in early March of our decision and, with our help, these gentlemen are actively seeking other Case Management and housing.
In the past, the Lazarus Foundation has been generously supported by religious groups, private corporations and individuals like you. We thank you for your ongoing prayers and support as it has allowed us to provide this needed mission for our community.
Our finances have been in a slow decline for a number of years, and volunteer help has greatly diminished, but we did everything we could to keep the facility open for the residents we serve. Donations have steadily decreased with the increasing number of very good regional homeless and addictions programs asking for help. There are only so many dollars that folks are willing and able to donate, diluting our portion of their giving. We are not, nor have ever been, a large well-funded agency that actively promotes itself. We were always ‘the quiet one’ due to the nature of the folks we served.
Because we provided long-term housing and case management services to ‘dual-diagnosed’ persons with addictions and mental health problems, we were unique in this mission for our area. There are no other long-term facilities like ours, unless the individual has a GOOD insurance plan, is a military veteran or has ample personal resources. ‘Short-term’ methods seem to create little help for the dual-diagnosed addicted person and the possibility of falling back into the same old cycle of drug and/or alcohol usage historically tops 80%. In contrast, the Lazarus Foundation’s rate of ‘recidivism’ over the last six years has been less than 18%.
We have had to cut a lot of corners and it has been extremely frustrating. The WIBOSCOC’s interpretation change was the heaviest blow and was the primary reason that prompted our decision to close. We will be able to operate the house through August of this year, giving the existing residents time to find other suitable housing. As of September 1, 2019, we will not have the resources to operate or maintain the facility and will close. We are not looking for additional funding, only your prayers that our existing residents will find suitable housing and Case Management.
Again, we thank you for your past support and request your prayers for this transition. Our prayers will continue to be with you.
Richard S. Lynes - Chairman
Lazarus Foundation, Inc.