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New Sobering Center Will Help Alcoholics On Skid Row Get Help

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Los Angeles will open a new Sobering Center on Skid Row to help homeless people who may be struggling with alcoholism avoid going to jail or the hospital. Los Angeles' new Sobering Center is the first of its kind in L.A., and is the result of a motion brought by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Hilda Solis, according to a release from Ridley-Thomas' office.

As it stands, homeless people who are drunk enough to be a hazard to themselves or someone else are typically cited or arrested by police officers. If someone is so drunk that they're in medical danger, firefighters or paramedics will take them to a hospital where they must wait to be admitted into the ER. LAFD medical director Mark Eckstein said via a statement in the release that "the growing problem of providing emergency medical services for the serially inebriated poses a challenge" and hopes that this new center will help those who are frequently drinking heavily break that cycle.

The Sobering Center will be open 24 hours, seven days a week, and serve as a resource to anyone who needs a safe place to sober up. Officials estimate the average person might stay for eight to 23 hours. Once the person is sober, staff will connect them to resources, such as substance abuse treatment and other helpful services. The Center is 9,500 square feet and equipped to handle about 8,000 visits each year. It will be located on Maple Ave. in Skid Row.

"This is a smart approach designed to save taxpayer dollars, improve the downtown area, free up scarce emergency resources and help the homeless heal. These are the types of efforts that the County needs to expand and scale up," Ridley-Thomas said in a statement.

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A similar center just opened in San Juan County in New Mexico.