Van Ness Recovery House

Van Ness Recovery House Los Angeles California

The Van Ness Recovery House opened a 20-bed facility on Beachwood Drive in 1973 and became aware of serving its first HIV-infected resident in 1984. The program has since served 1,632 HIV-infected residents. In the past five years, 61% of transgendered clients entering the program have been HIV-infected, 80% of all residents have been HIV-infected and over 86% of the residents have been homeless, having had little or no reportable income of the previous year. Over 2500 men and women have been given a new start in life thanks to a community that cares.


Located in Los Angeles, Calif., Van Ness Recovery House provides day treatment, residential treatment, sober living, and education to men and women struggling with addiction. The center doesn’t turn clients away for either their inability to pay or HIV status. Detox is available.

The center’s website states Van Ness Recovery House’s mission “is to meet the critical and expanding needs of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community for alcohol and drug addiction recovery.” The program also accepts incarcerated clients.


According to Van Ness Recovery House’s website, the center’s residential program runs between four to six months, with an average 88 hours of treatment per week. While clients are in the program, the center’s staff provides them with intense structure and support to address the problems that may have led to their addiction.

Clients on the center’s waiting list often wait one to three weeks before enrollment. While on the waiting list, clients are asked to stay sober and to attend 12-Step meetings daily. Incarcerated clients have a separate waiting list.

The first step of treatment is an assessment, which is used to create an individualized treatment plan. Most plans include group sessions, assessments, 12-Step meetings, and therapy. The center’s program has multiple phases. The final phase includes becoming employed, moving to a sober home, working with a sponsor, and a support group. Van Ness also has a variety of house meetings every week such as CMA Panel, Alumni Meetings, OA Meetings, and AA meetings.


Staff include HIV/STD counselors, sponsors, therapists and psychiatrists. Staff are trained to help clients deal with issues such as internalized homophobia, childhood sexual abuse, repeated incarcerations, acceptance of HIV, and both diagnosed and undiagnosed mental health disorders.


According to Van Ness Recovery House’s website, smoking is not permitted at the facility. Activities include walks, art therapy, movie viewings, Big Book groups, and meditation. Clients also search for jobs during treatment and begin paying bills after finding employment.


The three alumni polled by to date gave Van Ness Recovery House two positive reviews and one negative. One alum rated the center mostly four and five out of five stars across the board including when asked if they would recommend Van Ness Recovery. A second alum gave the center four stars across the board including for treatment effectiveness, but a third alum rated the facility only two stars in treatment effectiveness and three stars for meals and nutrition, though they did rate the center four stars in accommodations and amenities.

Alum E.B., though mostly positive in their review, rated the center one star for holistic offerings. They wrote: “The staff at this facility are the most loving and caring people I’ve ever me in my life…This place will always be my home it’s we’re I learned about honesty, integrity and how to be a friend.” Alum B.C. was critical about the therapy’s confrontational tone, writing: “I need a more gentle approach, leading to me wanting to know more about addiction and feelings than simply doing something because I’m afraid to be yelled at.”

On third-party sites, Van Ness received mostly positive reviews to date. Google, ten reviewers rated Van Ness an average four out of five stars, with one negative review, three mixed, and six positive.[1] On the center’s Facebook page, which the facility can manage, 53 reviewers rated Van Ness an average 4.6 out of five stars, with 47 positive reviews, two mixed, and four negative.[2]

Alumni and loved ones mostly praised the center’s compassionate staff and LGBT-focused programming, though a few felt therapy was too confrontational. Alum Anthony wrote: “This isn’t just tough love, it’s bricks of love. Sometimes you have to have a couple through at you. These women have been through it and are great examples of what sobriety can bring to your life.”


The sole loved one polled by to date left no ratings for Van Ness Recovery House but did write negative commentary about the facility: “A big part of me does feel like it’s all for the money…They destroy families. This isn’t right and I’m furious.”


According to Van Ness’s website, treatment is available to anyone regardless on their ability to pay. After receiving jobs, clients pay a minimum of $100 per week toward their house bill, which is $750 per month.


Van Ness Recovery House Reviews

I was in the house almost 3 months and in the end they stole 490 dollars from me. They also messed with my medications while I was there. Frankly Kathy was a bitch and has a huge ego. So ironic considering how much they said we had to smash our egos when she was a narcissistic obnoxious bitch. She should be ashamed of herself for messing with my gabapentin and stealing from me. She cared more about my insurance and fucking with me than she did my recovery. Wouldn’t recommend this place to anyone. Kathy’s approach to helping people was obnoxious and rude. She would never admit it but she clearly gets off on the control she has over the residents.
I was a resident at the Van Ness House almost 20 years ago and I'm shocked to see the head of the facility is still there. Disappointing. The positive: It's a nice large facility built in an old Hollywood Mansion. Please, don't mistake this to mean luxurious. I'm sure at one time the likely once glorious home fell into disrepair, but it has been whipped into shape into a comfortable, mostly utilitarian facility. There's enough of the old charm there to give it character. The shared rooms are comfortable, as are the living and dining rooms. Residents are well fed. Three hardy meals and plenty of fruit and healthy snacks sit out to grab throughout the day. The staff and their "unique" style of brutalizing recovery out of people is what I remember so disheartening. Like many, if not most, past residents, I was thrown out at one point. I was asked a question during a group session, was told I was a liar and placed on probation. (I'm an alcoholic, I'm a born liar, but it was not true at that session) A few days later I walked into an AA meeting at the exact time it was scheduled to start. Since we were expected to be early, or at least prompt. I was thrown out. This is not about sour grapes. My sponsor had me well connected, and I was given assistance until I was allowed back in. Many are not so lucky. Sadly, this is the Van Ness format. Excessive regulations, name calling, and punishment, to rid the house of those who aren't "humble" to save the ones who are. The challenge is being humble is an act at the house because you are always walking on eggshells. Is telling the truth being humble, or saying what the staff wants to hear? This is probably the most nerve-wracking part of living there. Speaking truth is not important. Speaking the staff's truth, whatever it may be at the moment, is. If I sound disjointed it's because it's difficult putting the Van Ness House environment into words. Imagine how difficult it is to comprehend in the very earliest days off sobriety. Humility, and being humble are the words tossed around most at this facility. As one frustrated former board member told me, they keep seeming to forget humility is in Step 7. How can a 12-step recovery house get this so wrong. You'll find plenty of people in LA (probably thousands) who are grateful for the Van Ness House for helping them get sober. I have little doubt you'll find an equal number who, like me, are grateful for their sobriety despite their experience at the Van Ness House. I was definitely at my bottom to have wanted sobriety so badly that I kept it after having been there. What makes me sad when I think of the Van Ness House, is not the many who have had a bad experience, such as myself, I'm more concerned about those who returned to homelessness, or worse, because they were thrown out for not knowing the right word at the right time. You're told to be honest, but God only knows what words will come out of your mouth after the lightening round that goes on in your brain in the few seconds you try to figure out what the staff wants to hear. It's a horribly negative, feisty environment, where residents are frequently encouraged to turn on each other. Many have gone there because they had no other choice. If that's the case, its better than drinking. If you have a choice to go elsewhere. Anywhere. Take it.
I was in the house and the truth is at the time I wasn't ready to be clean. Kathy, Loyda and everyone that worked there loved me where I was at regardless of me not wanting to stay clean at that moment and honest with myself. They told me that I was worth something, they taught me that it's okay to care for myself and if I wanted to be sober I would be I'm now celebrating 3 years sober. And I learned all of the basics from them thank you so much Kathy Watts you are amazing and I'm indebted to you.
Utter garbage- Lloyda Perez, Nancy Garcia, Kathy Watt have nothing to live for aside from the misery they inflict/and have done to countless persons who have had to come in contact with them. They are ruthless thieves, ugly and rotten garbage who are so hateful and bitter they refuse to surround Themselves with anything different from their divorced/hateful/ugly and oppressed peronas- Lloyda is especially the ugliest ex wannabe gangster drug addict of them all- she probably has soo many countless enemies that she does nothing but work at that mental health favility and go home to her ogre and wallow in the mess of an excuse for life she calls for herself (i hope u get covid u wicked trash) you get what u deserve
Treatment EffectivenessMy Partner entered this so called Rehab and it pretty much followed the script Ive read happened to peoples loved ones. the imposed the 60 black out period. Our last phone call at that time was him wrestling with someone for the phone, he yelling my name and people in the back ground screaming no at him. and silence.. No one would tell me what happened. I asked to speak to a director or a councilor but no one would or did. After the 60 days, when I head from him - he was angry, hostile. paranoid like he was still using. blaming his drug use on everyone but himself. Way to go van ness. You turn a drug users psychosis into reality for him. he basically told me they are feed a script to tell their loved ones but it was to save his life. That was one ten minute call and he has since disappeared. no family therapy no repairing lives I believe that they try to break up couples and brainwash them into drinking their Kool Aid - their new addiction