DCH hosts meeting regarding methamphetamine use in homes, emphasizes their zero-tolerance policy

Kyle Knox

Gila River Indian News


On Oct. 25, the Sacaton Head Start Multi-purpose building was filled to discuss the potential risks and costs of methamphetamine in Department of Community housing residences. Every department that visits, maintains, or works with residents in DCH homes were present. The workshops and presentations focused on understanding the dangers of potential exposure to meth by users in the house and cost for remediating a home where meth is present.


Dept. of Community Housing, Dept. of Housing Development, Land Use Planning and Zoning, GRIC Elderly Services, GRIC Tribal Health Dept., Housing Advisory Committee representatives, GRIC OSHA, Gila River Police Department, Council of Elders and others attended the meeting.


Laurie Thomas, Director for the Department of Community Housing, tested a recently vacant unit, where drug use was suspected, and results were positive for meth. Thomas stated, “The unit was a three-bedroom, two bathrooms the entire home including the kitchen and living room tested positive for meth.” Thomas then said, “The cost to remediate a home for future residents, close to $6,000.”

What some don’t realize is when meth is smoked, the drug has similar effects as second-hand smoke. The most significant difference is that the residue that the smoke leaves on surfaces in an enclosed space remain along with its original chemical structure that will get a person “high.” 


Walls, carpets, and especially air ducts “trap” the residue and can be transmitted by touch. These small trace amounts become harmful for residents throughout a home, and the long term is most detrimental to infants and the elderly.


Meth residue remains in homes until chemically treated washed in addition to other remediation. Until recently, DCH has not tested its homes but are now starting with “abandoned” homes. Of those tested to date, a majority have tested positive.   

Thomas stressed, “DCH will be enforcing the zero-tolerance policy against drugs, alcohol, and criminal activity in the units. People need to know that we’re required by federal regulations to mandate those policies, or we risk losing all that funding if we do not enforce those aspects of the [federal] grant.”


This enforcement will also help for those workers that maintain or work within the DCH units safe from exposure.


DCH is working to develop a policy that will hold residents liable for paying the remediation costs of the home. Establishing personal payment plans or Per Capita garnishments are cost options that DCH is considering. But until then, holding residents who are found guilty of violating the zero-tolerance drug-use policy accountable is their biggest issue.