Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Sun Sentinel: City leaders push federal housing official for sober home regulation

(Mod: In Florida, where the struggle over what are being called "Sober Living Facilities" has apparently hit critical mass, there is now some hope that the Federal government could soon back off on its demands that local governments accommodate these facilities no matter what the consequences. This could soon affect how this situation is to be viewed here in California as well. What follows is an article that appeared yesterday in South Florida's Sun Sentinal. I believe it offers insight into some of the fears being expressed locally over what appears to be a sudden rise in these facilities in our area. To view it in the original setting click here.)

City leaders push federal housing official for sober home regulation
City and county officials from across South Florida are hanging their hopes on the federal government stepping in to help regulate the booming proliferation of sober homes.

Thousands of the homes have cropped up in neighborhoods around South Florida, and Delray Beach has been at the epicenter of the issue, U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel said Monday.

"The stories that we heard today were awful," Frankel said. "In a period of a year, one house had 115 calls to the fire department because of overdoses."

Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, held a closed-door meeting with representatives from South Florida cities and counties Monday at the Crest Theater Library in Delray Beach's Old School Square. The group of local mayors, city managers, commissioners and city attorneys drove by hundreds of sober houses before the meeting.

Also present at the meeting was Assistant Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Gustavo Velasquez. He came to learn more about sober homes and hear what local leaders think the federal government can do to help.

Sober homes are a kind of halfway house for drug addicts fresh out of rehab who are not quite ready to return to society. The homes open in neighborhoods, which neighbors say has led to traffic on side streets and an influx of drug dealers who prey on addicts trying to get clean. People have complained of finding needles in parks and on front lawns.

Because addiction is considered a disability by the federal government, addicts are protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act. Those protections have made regulating sober homes difficult, and officials are cautious about what they say in case of lawsuits — one reason they met in private.

Frankel said that some operators are doing little or nothing to help recovering addicts, instead simply kicking out problem clients.

Previously, attempts to regulate the homes — even to require licensing — have resulted in lawsuits claiming that stopping addicts from living in the home violates their equal protection as disabled people under the Fair Housing Act.

"We don't want to open up the ADA and Fair Housing Act to changes," Frankel said. "There are colleagues of mine up there who would like to just toss 'em."

Frankel said that getting anything passed in Congress is a long shot given the partisan gridlock that has ground the legislative process to a near standstill.

Velasquez will now travel back to Washington and work with his own department and the Department of Justice to produce a joint statement that should have some weight in court.

The joint statement from HUD and DOJ is expected to arrive by August. Frankel said that the statement will make clear that cities and counties can "deny a request for public accommodation when it changes the character of a neighborhood."

After that, city and county officials hope that they'll be able to limit sober homes based on both quality of service and quantity of homes in a neighborhood.

The question comes in defining how many sober homes will result in changes to a neighborhood's character.

"It's a matter of degree whether [the joint statement] is a game changer or something less than we would like," said Delray Beach Mayor Cary Glickstein. "Where do you reach the saturation point where you're operating contrary to the laws? That's going to be a case by case determination."

(Mod: A related "sober living facility" item is on the Planning Commission's docket for Thursday night's meeting. We will be discussing that here tomorrow.)

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

59 comments:

  1. This whole thing is a disaster. I'm not saying that addicts shouldn't get help and not receive compassion. But by allowing what is essential a commercial use (a business) in a residential zone, the government is committing a "taking" of nearby properties. You cannot sell a home that is next door to one of these group homes. In the unlikely event that you can, you will sell your home for alot less money - and I mean a lot. Think about it. Would you ever buy a home next to a group home. Of course not. Too many things are out of your control. You don't know who much supervision those people will receive and how they will care for the property or how much noise they will make when they are all sitting in their backyard. I discussed this issue with a real estate attorney, and he said that you absolutely have to disclose to prospective buyers the existence of a group home next door. For all the reasons I stated, it is a material fact that buyers need to know about. As happened in Florida, its a snowball effect. Once you get a few of these profitable businesses in there, then more start coming. No one is safe from these consequences.

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    1. I gather that addicts are now "disabled" so you can't disclose their treatment, or something. In fact if you do disclose, you are violating the fairness to the disabled.
      ?

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    2. Drug addicts are addicts because they chose to take drugs period. It was their decision. From the time people are in school, everyone is told about the effects of drugs. I don't want them or the dealers that prey upon them in my neighborhood.

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    3. I don't see the drug addict disability in the same light as, say, someone at CLIMB (Center for Living Independence for the Multi-handicapped Blind).

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    4. 100% correct. They did not choose to be blind. The addicts chose to get high.

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    5. I didn't choose it! It was your fault. You made me do it, and now you have to support me to make me better. And when I relapse you'll need to try harder.

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  2. Sierra Madre can support 100's of these places - any house that is for rent or sale is fair game. The only restriction seems to be a 300 feet distance between them. So about one every block.

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  3. Two unfortunates here.
    * With present laws and codes we are no where near saturation.
    * It takes years to make changes in Sacramento.

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    1. "We are nowhere near saturation."
      Translation - nobody locally has been killed yet.

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    2. 7:52, the article above says there will/may be new Federal guidelines in August.

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  4. Is it too early in the process for any of our elected officials to speak out yet?

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  5. Sounds like Prince needed help, too bad he didn't seek help sooner.

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    1. His choice.

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    2. Prince must have been in treatment, because he was using prescription drugs. He was probably killed by his doctor.

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    3. Do you have a flush handle on the side of your head?

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    4. It has previously been reported that Percocet has been prescribed to Prince.The dosage for a usual (that is overweight) adult is one or 2 tablets of PERCOCET 2.5 mg/325 mg every 6 hours “as needed for pain”. Given his very slim physique, such a dosage might already be borderline toxic. No wonder that the DEA and the US Attorney are joining the Sheriff department to determine the cause of death.

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    5. A musician with a drug problem? Shocking.

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    6. No surprise here. Search warrant for doctor treating Prince.

      http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/prince-investigation-warrant-names-doctor-treating-star-death-n571581

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  6. Anyone with a drug problem really ought to go someplace where medical doctors are involved, and not a boutique "luxury rehab" business.

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    1. For the kind of money that place on Carter is charging there really should be real medical people involved. But I suspect that isn't what this is really about.

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    2. They go to these facilities AFTER they have been detoxed and made it through medically assisted rehabilitation.

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    3. But the dedicato website says they offer detox.
      So maybe the detox after detox?

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    4. 2:01 probably believes in unicorns.

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  7. You voted for it and the mayor wanted it, more sober living homes creates more UUT tax money for calpers pensions. What's the problem?

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    1. When were drug rehab programs on the ballot? Me thinks your meds need to be adjusted.

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    2. Hey, one trick pony at 8:59, the only way more income than outlay would be generated for the city is to have big facilities.
      That's not what this is about. It's 6 beds or less.

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  8. 8:59, there is no relationship between the rehab place and higher UUT....it would be the same if a family lived there. The city does not make money on this. It loses money.

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    1. Not sure if I agree. With all the people living there electricity usage will be much higher. Plus water is also taxed as a utility, among others. How exactly do you see the city losing money?

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    2. A family would use just as many resources, but without the increased cost in police and paramedic involvement.

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    3. Convaluded thinking, 8:59. Not everything is related to the UUT.

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  9. Esperanza got the 66 state funded low income houses and now Carter gets the sober living housing facility What a present surprise. Thank the city council for evening the score. Just think ... More UUT tax money and YOU voted for it.

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    1. 9:04 you make no sense.

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    2. The city council did nothing about this drug treatment place. It hasn't even come up at a meeting for them. The fight is only just starting, and it's starting at the Planning Commission level.

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    3. What does the senior housing have to do with the UUT or the drug treatment housing? Please explain your confused thinking.

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    4. My guess is that the UUT guy is just angry about the way the election went, and is preaching to the choir about it.
      The Tattler readers are probably, for the most part, not the people who voted to enslave themselves to the UUT forever.

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  10. If I recall correctly: the service years of Doug Hayes and council members, with the exception of one; voted for the CALPERS form of retirement the city is stuck with. It really does make a difference to study all aspects of an item, even if that means a continuance; in order to make a decision which protects the citizens of the town first.

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  11. I just heard that drug dealers tend to come to the areas where a rehab business is. Anyone know if that's really the case?

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    1. Demand and supply.

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    2. Bringing heroin users into this community - for whatever reason - will not improve things.

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    3. Someone defending the place keeps talking about valium and white ladies. Not heroin. Just who are the target clients?

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    4. quite obviously, very wealthy people are the target clients.

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    5. The Planning Commission wanted strict rules for growing medical marijuana. The City Council, all 5 voted against the recommendation.

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    6. Given the national opioid crisis, we probably have already some heroin addicts here.

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    7. Addicts are everywhere - and it is to be hoped that they seek help from qualified medical professionals in medical facilities.

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    8. Only 11.2% of the addicts seeking treatment are actually receiving it in medical facilities. Some professionals call this entirely inadequate.

      https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-statistics

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    9. And some people see it as a great money making opportunity.

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    10. This is what you get when you have a health care "industry".

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  12. Interesting critical article about the rehab biz. Some things to watch out for:
    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/10-things-rehab-centers-wont-tell-you-2014-05-16

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  13. Since rehabilitation treatments don't work on the majority of the addicts who try it, and since addicts are known to use burglary to support their habits, doesn't it seem foolish to bring them into the quiet neighborhoods of Sierra Madre?

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    1. We have an incredible police force .... At night.

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    2. Then we are really screwed. Most burglaries happen during the day!

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  14. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/fda-reconsiders-training-requirements-for-painkillers/2016/04/29/4f961466-0e0e-11e6-bc53-db634ca94a2a_story.html

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  15. My friends, I do not think that it is a realistic view that the federal government will stop this. For those of you who are interested in this national crisis, the US Surgeon General is talking about this today: https://www.washingtonpost.com/pr/wp/2016/05/02/the-washington-post-to-explore-nations-opioid-crisis-during-event-featuring-u-s-surgeon-general-vivek-murthy/
    Of the well over 600,000 heroin addicts in this country, 90% are white and middle-class.
    When I pointed out two days ago, that typical heroin addicts today are middle-class white women who had been hooked up by their doctors to prescription drugs, this was viewed as an “interesting idea” and it was quickly pointed out that it would be discriminatory if these facilities were only available to white women.
    For the record, this is not an “interesting idea”, it is a well-established fact that 90% of heroin users are nowadays white middle-class people, with a majority being women. http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1874575
    From a statistics point of view, it is most likely that these facilities will be sought out by middle-class white women. Adding the fact that most insurances only pay a small fraction of the costs, will favor this portion of the population even more. While we may think of it otherwise, addiction has never been a matter of social class. Just think of Betty Ford or George W. Bush. If it can happen in the White house, it can happen in every house.
    Now, before we get all too excited about this and make our voices heard that we do not want this in our neighborhoods, chances are we already have a number of untreated addicts right among us.
    How did this happen?
    In the 90s, Oxycodone was marketed as a “non-addictive” opioid, ironically just like heroin was when it was initially introduced. After “key decision makers” were convinced, doctors started to generously prescribe medicine to any patient with pain, hooking up hundreds of thousands of people to Oxycodone.
    While three CEOs of Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxiContin, pleaded “guilty” to false advertising to avoid jail time, the drug proved to be anything but non-addictive, just like heroin. Patients report that, in some cases, using the doctor’s recommended dose for 2 days already led to withdrawal symptoms. Why are women more vulnerable? Because they often weigh less than men, they metabolize drugs differently than men and they process pain differently than men. They are thus more likely to be overdosed. Once overdosed, tolerance kicks in quickly, requiring higher and higher doses to have the same pain relief. The overdosing has the side effect of creating a “high”, making it more likely to be overused again. If you have the choice between excruciating pain and a “high”, only masochists prefer the pain.
    After the settled lawsuit, Purdue Pharma changed its formulation, driving addicted patients to heroin, and from there, they went further downhill, with devastating effects to their own health and their families. Only a small portion of patients (those who can afford the treatment) will be admitted to these facilities. Even the best medical insurances only cover a small portion of the costs (I can’t speak for CalPERS though). Whether or not these facilities are adequate is a different question. We tend to let the market decide those questions. Most specialists think that the treatment of addiction in the US, in general, is inadequate.
    http://healthland.time.com/2012/07/12/new-abuse-proof-oxycontin-formula-pushed-addicts-to-heroin-and-other-opioids-survey-finds/
    Now, there are currently at least three promising lawsuits to bring an end to this, one from Kentucky and two from California, Orange County and Santa Clarity County.
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-10-20/purdue-says-kentucky-suit-over-oxycontin-could-be-painful
    If we want these facilities to go away, we need to stop the source that produces them.

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  16. Remember when Glen Lambdin and MaryAnn and I can't remember who else tried to get around that regulation by passing an ordinance that (I think 5)unrelated males could not live in residential housing? MaryAnn got slammed by the gay community. The other four who voted for it -- not a peep.

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    1. Ever see the video of Bart Doyle who as mayor fought hard for the so-called family values ordinance? He later tried to pin it all on MaryAnn.

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    2. He did pin it all on MaryAnn. Dirty politics at its finest.

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  17. California rehab program rife with fraud:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLDurT10mnRdCe30pWzbDzCuemBBapSL5l&v=SMLtWCxSEok

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  18. Can't help but wonder where the troll who posts on theses articles is from. This treatment center, or something more organized? Does s/he get paid to watch out for internet comments that defend a neighborhood's right to decide whether or not a rehab is appropriate, or is it more personal to Sierra Madre?

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