LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — $500,000 in federal funds was allocated by the City Council to Freehab, a nonprofit, no-cost drug rehabilitation program on Wednesday.
The program was started by English actor and comedian Russell Brand, who himself is a recovering addict.
Brand was commended by Councilman Richard Alarcon before the council’s 12-0 vote to approve the funding.
Brand is expected to expand and renovate an 88-bed facility with the Community Development Block Grant funds.
The facility was previously run by People in Progress, a non-profit organization that went bankrupt last year.
Councilman Alarcon spoke on the closure of People in Progress, who was in operation in Sun Valley for 40 years.
“[The closure] came as a shock and it created a gap in resources,” Alarcon said.
When Brand approached Alarcon about the possibility of running his own substance abuse treatment program, the council member suggested using $500,000 that was originally allocated to a different project.
Brand, who has struggled in the past with substance abuse, said that while there are “ugly aspects to addiction,” there is also the potential for people who have been a “terrible detriment to society” to change.
“When I spent some time in downtown Los Angeles, I was astonished by the degree and severity of homelessness in our community,” Brand said. “Now I know, for myself, for me, it’s astonishing that we’ve learned to acclimate to this extreme condition of people who are the same as us being cast aside.”
Freehab also has satellite locations in Skid Row and in Hollywood , according to its website. The program operates mostly on private donations, and with the help of foundation and corporate funding.
Brand co-founded Freehab with Teen Project starter Lauri Burns. Teen Project is a program that helps teens who are coming out of foster care.
They plan to serve around 200 people who are suffering from substance abuse, and their goal is to open their treatment facility as early as October.
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