Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 28th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Lifestyle? Or saving Lives?

I sometimes get responses on the blog that question TLC living conditions.

Is the housing suitable? Why do we feed so much pasta? Too many clients living in a room. The buildings are old, and so forth.

But some inquiries are legitimate questions. And others are playing a kid’s game of “gotcha.”

In reality I agree 100% with those who think our properties should be nicer and newer – with fewer clients per square foot. I also agree with those who think we should feed better meals. These are legitimate objectives.

But the real question is how to pay for these things? TLC receives zero dollars from government or grant resources. Our organization is completely funded from service fees paid by clients, plus revenue from a few small businesses we operate.

Those who use a calculator multiply the $110 a week we charge each of our 600 clients and come up with what they think is a meaningful figure about income. What they don’t calculate is that we collect only 68% of that amount.

They also know nothing about business overhead: $75,000 a month for mortgages. $55,000-$65,000 for monthly utilities. The list goes on. Food. Property taxes. Insurance. Gasoline and maintenance for 40 vehicles. Phone charges.They know how to figure income, but not expenses.

Those who question our meals and living conditions are invited to spend time in our front office. There they can hear pleas for help from homeless addicts who are grateful we’ll accept them without money.

They’re about saving their lives, staying out of jail and the dope house – not the niceties of gracious living.