There was a very drunk man at the door to 1811 Eastlake on the afternoon of February 17. He did not want to go in; he wanted to rock back and forth on the balls of his feet while looking down. Inside, three drunken men had just returned from shopping, and one of them was singing while lifting one leg and jumping; all three got in the elevator, presumably to go up and drink what was in the bags. This is how it works at 1811 Eastlake, which is unlike almost any other housing in Seattle.
Also inside the building—a perfectly sober Jon Bon Jovi, who had come to tour the facility.
At 1811 Eastlake, which houses 75 hardcore, formerly homeless alcoholics, nobody has to stop drinking in order to stop being homeless—which means they're safer, land in the emergency room less often, and sometimes even deal with their habit by choice. Founded in 2005, 1811 Eastlake is one of those rare common-sense public service projects. You know, the kind that work. According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association this past April, 1811 Eastlake saved taxpayers $4 million its first year alone.
It turns out that Bon Jovi, who was in Seattle to kick off a world tour, is pals with Housing and Urban Development secretary Shaun Donovan, who mentioned 1811 Eastlake in a speech—and Bon Jovi has a charitable foundation serving the impoverished and homeless.
So Bon Jovi (still hot, miraculously) took a tour of 1811 Eastlake to look at it as a model for his own foundation's work and talked to a bunch of reporters about why.
"I don't need a scientist to invent the cure; it just takes money and determination, so this is something I can make a difference in," he said. He explained that after years of obligatory photo ops and faux celebrity cause championing, good deeding became an interest "for real for real for real" about six or seven years ago. He founded the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation in 2006, when it was time to do something "instead of sitting in hotel rooms like I have for the last quarter century," he said.
"Not everyone is suffering at the entry level," he said, referring sheepishly to the fact that his past work helping mothers and families get housed in Philadelphia was maybe easier than what they do at 1811 Eastlake, where the residents are "advanced," in the disease sense of the word.
Bon Jovi dropped the name of a guy he'd met: Ed, a vet, who after years on the street finally started sobering up at 1811 Eastlake.
It was the first stop on "a fact-finding mission" he'll continue in other cities on the tour, Bon Jovi said. This is how a rocker ages gracefully.