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Veterans Home Cracks Down on Drugs

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After a series of deaths, a home for military veterans is threatening to evict tenants unless they take a drug-and-alcohol test.

When it opened St. Leo’s Residence on Chicago’s South Side last year, Catholic Charities called the apartment building a model for housing homeless veterans.

But Chicago Public Radio reported in August that six tenants had died of causes ranging from cocaine intoxication to heart disease. Catholic Charities acknowledges a seventh individual died while in the building as a guest.

This week Catholic Charities began a crackdown on drug and alcohol use at St. Leo’s. The program includes urine tests for all 144 tenants.

But some residents say they’ll refuse. They say Catholic Charities has ignored calls for more social workers and a closer watch on the tenants’ physical and mental health.

A statement from Catholic Charities says the social-work staffing at St. Leo’s is more than adequate. The statement says the organization encourages residents to monitor their own health and use a nearby clinic run by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

I’m Chip Mitchell, Chicago Public Radio.

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