West Sound Treatment Center created the Voices in Recovery Award to honor people in the community who have gone above and beyond to help those suffering from substance use disorders. This year, we are pleased to name Jim Adrian as a recipient of this award.
Jim Adrian has been a part of the Kitsap community since 1973, when he moved here and began work in the shipyard’s engineering department. Although it would be twenty-five years before he took early retirement and began his second career in real estate and housing, he has always looked for ways to serve the Kitsap community.
He served on the Bremerton City Council in the 1980s for three years, served on the Kitsap Community Resources Board for a year, and spent some time on the Salvation Army Board, as well. His time with these organizations oriented him to some of the issues faced by people with low or no income.
When Jim retired from the shipyard in 1997, he decided he wanted to offer housing to low-income tenants. “I worked with a number of nonprofits and state agencies along the way,” he explains. “The Bremerton Housing Authority, the Kitsap County Housing Authority, WSTC, Scarlet Road, KCR, and St. Vincent de Paul, to name a few. It hasn’t been trouble-free at all. It’s been challenging, but that doesn’t bother me. It’s more rewarding to work with nonprofits than to be out there just trying to maximize your return on investment, and it’s interesting to see how things unfold.”
Jim had been receiving individual referrals from nonprofits and agencies for years when he set aside fourteen units for West Sound Treatment Center’s Forward Bound program. To qualify for housing through this program, people had to have a criminal history, a history of homelessness, and a substance use disorder. On paper, they looked like the worst possible tenants, but then, that was the point of the program: to help people overcome those barriers so they could get a fresh start. Even better, if they stayed for a year, they could have a housing choice voucher, which they could take anywhere in the U.S.
One of the keys to that program’s dozens of success stories was funding for case management. During the five-year period that Jim Adrian worked the program, he had fifty or sixty families live in his residences, earn their vouchers, and go on to find other housing. Seven continue to rent from him today, more than a decade later. “When someone rents from you for ten or fifteen years, you get to know them a bit,” Jim says. “I’ve learned over the years that recovery is a lifetime journey, and it’s personally rewarding to get to watch people succeed.”
Jim has also hired many people in recovery through the years and has found them to be very loyal employees. He recognizes that they may need a bit more flexibility, and he accommodates workers who tell him they need time off to go to meetings or deal with mental health issues. “They go for a day or two, and then come back recharged for another week. A lot of employers can’t deal with the uncertainty, but it doesn’t bother me.”
Two of Jim’s employees are WSTC alumni. They began working for him while they were going through treatment and living in recovery housing. A criminal record, mental health issues, and their substance use disorders could have made it difficult for them to find work. However, Jim made sure they had training, tools, and the accommodations they needed, and five years later, they are still working for him.
Jim recognizes the extra challenges people face in recovery. “You can’t expect a landlord to be a social worker,” he says, and he doesn’t try to fill that role. The role he plays is every bit as important, and maybe one that’s even rarer nowadays: He stands out in the community as a landlord and employer who gives people in recovery the opportunity to be their best self.
And that is why WSTC has chosen to honor Jim Adrian with this year’s Voices in Recovery Award.