Women evicted after alcohol test

Associated Press

VANCOUVER, Wash. — For the holidays, 13 women who live in local homeless shelters got a nice present from an anonymous business: a dinner cruise aboard the Portland Spirit riverboat.

There was one condition: no drinking. The two shelters where they live have zero-tolerance alcohol policies.

Apparently, however, 10 of the 13 ignored the rule. They tested positive for alcohol use when they returned from the trip, and were kicked out of the shelters for a week, beginning Friday.

"Every one of the women was warned before they took advantage of this wonderful opportunity that they would be tested when they came back," said Diane Christie, executive director of Share Emergency Housing, which operates the shelters.

Several of the women claimed that they hadn’t been drinking, and that it was the marsala wine sauce on the beef tenderloin or the Bailey’s Irish Cream pie dessert that registered on the alcohol tests.

Christie said the quantities of alcohol present in such menu items would not be enough to cause a reaction in the swab tests used by the shelters.

Some of the women planned to leave the shelter with their families. In all, 46 people left Friday, said Share spokesman Gary Perman. He said the shelters provided them with motel or bus vouchers to ensure they would have a place to stay.

The women will be allowed to return to the shelter in seven days if their families stay behind and they pass an alcohol test. However, if they left with their family, they lost their spot, and their rooms were given to one of the 30 families on a waiting list.

John Greholver, executive director of Open House Ministries, an unrelated shelter, said he supported Share Emergency Housing’s decision to bar the women.

"These are very tough decisions to make, sometimes heartbreaking, but if you don’t abide by these rules, you will lose ground with the families you’re trying to help," Greholver said. "You’ve got to set the rules, outline the consequences and stick to them."

The three women who did not test positive for drinking face no punishment.

Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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