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Milwaukee sober living community calls for support, addiction affects an entire community

4th Dimension Sobreity
Jason Gonzalez
4th Dimension Sobriety Inc., is located in between Milwaukee's Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods. They provide a structured community for those seeking freedom from alcohol or drugs.

According to the CDC addiction and substance abuse increased during the pandemic. And we are seeing this trend rise in Milwaukee County.

There are many obstacles for people trying to get sober and a critical resource are sober living facilities. These spaces are structured communities that support recovering addicts, but the number of available spots haven’t matched the growing need in southeast Wisconsin.

4th Dimension Sobriety Inc. is located between the Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods in Milwaukee and is one of the largest providers of sober living housing in Milwaukee County. 4th Dimension has been able to expand its community and accommodate 50 people at a time, but the number of spots varies from place to place.

Jason Gonzalez is the founder of 4th Dimension Sobriety. He mentions with the growing community's need for sober living housing, the number of beds has remained stagnant.

"Since the pandemic, there hasn't been an increase in beds," Gonzalez says. "The number [of sober living] houses remain the same. And the number of beds have pretty much remained the same. So, although the need is out there, there’s a greater need, the beds remain the same."

According to Gonzalez sober living communities, generally, are opened from a place of passion by the founders. But with the growing need from the community and the limited resources available to be able to match the demand, it can be hard to even open a facility.

There continues to be an attached stigma with sober living communities, where many are forced to operate very quietly because neighbors might be afraid.

Gonzalez says, "When I first opened up 4th Dimension, people were very concerned about there being a sober living home on the block, despite the fact that there were five bars on each corner."

Jason Gonzalez
Ash Bilo Photography
Jason Gonzalez

He emphasizes, "There's nothing that more shameful than making somebody who's trying to actively be better in their life. And then making them do that quietly in the shadows as if they're doing something wrong, when really, they're trying to do something good for themselves and for others."

4th Dimension Sobriety has joined a network called the Milwaukee County Bridge Housing. The collaboration helps people living in Milwaukee County pay for their stay at 4th Dimension Sobriety.

"That's rare. There are very few sober living homes that are part of that," Gonzalez says. "Most of them operate outside of that system, and they rely on the individual getting a job and then slowly paying their way through the program."

With the midterm election on the mind of all Wisconsinites, Gonzalez emphasizes that addiction and overdose deaths affect the entire community. "I don't see how any government can just brush this under the rug and pretend this isn't an issue. This is more than just a little issue. This is affecting our entire community," he says.

Gonzalez continues: "I'm surprised that there hasn't been more conversation, especially on the local level, of providing this vital resource for people in their early stages of recovery. And I hope that we could, not only for the individual but for the community as a whole."

Mallory Cheng was a Lake Effect producer from 2021 to 2023.
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