Monday, November 24, 2008

Dudley House Battle Continues

Questions on Dudley House swirled again Monday, but City Administrator Marc Dashield said he expected the residential treatment center to regain its license by the end of the year.

One item on the agenda was rejection of a bid by Management Options LLC of Cedar Knolls to operate the program, but Dashield said the agency was the sole bidder. The administration was seeking council approval to reject the bid for “insufficient response.”

He said a former director, Carol Anderson, was presently working with the city to restore the program.

An institution for about a quarter-century, Dudley House has changed the lives of hundreds of addicted men for the better, as several testified Monday while seeking answers on the program’s fate.

Most of the program costs are paid through grants.

“Everyone that comes to Dudley House comes with a grant,” Dashield said. “When the grants run out, the clients run out.”

But due to new regulations last year, the residence on Putnam Avenue needed to become handicapped accessible to keep its license with the Division of Addiction Services within the state Department of Human Services.

The deadline elapsed without compliance and funding was withdrawn. The last client left in May, but work on accessibility did not begin until September. In answer to a former client’s question, Dashield explained that the city received Community Development Block Grant funds for the repairs, but action could be taken only after the grant year began in September.

The program is largely grant-funded, except for $28,000 in city costs, which expanded to about $148,000 this year to pay for the renovations. A citizens’ budget advisory group recommended turning the program over to a non-profit agency, a notion that some council members have endorsed, saying a mission-driven agency could garner funding beyond what a municipality could raise.

One problematic issue has been the proportion of Plainfielders who take part in the program. Objectors want to see more city residents in the program, while others recognize the need to be away from familiar haunts while battling addiction.

The sharing of personal tales of transformation Monday left little doubt that the program has turned many Central Jersey former drug and alcohol addicts into productive and successful citizens. The outcome of the program’s viability remains to be seen.

Among comments, a Linden graduate of the program said, “This house works the way it is.”
“That place saved my life,” said a Piscataway resident who took 20 years to get clean, but has succeeded for two years now.

Others cited friends who had gone on to reunite with families or pursue careers in business or education.

Dudley House advocate Dottie Gutenkauf likened the current confusion to a “hamster in a wheel” producing lots of noise and excitement, but not getting anywhere.

As officials have said, results may be known by 2009.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is obvious that the city cannot run this institution. Let those who are expert at running these types of homes do it. Most homes are run by non-profit, and run very well. Why can't Plainfield follow in the footsteps of successful non-profits? Heck, Plainfield cannot even run Plainfield!

1:55 PM  

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