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Meeting to discuss 'sober homes' set for Thursday

Posted by Patrick Rosso  June 5, 2012 01:32 PM

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“Sober homes” have been a hot topic in Dorchester and Roxbury with residents raising concerns about the lack of state and city control, the care being provided, and the at-times detrimental effects the homes have on neighborhoods.

A public meeting has been set for Thursday to discuss exactly what rules apply to the homes and what neighbors need to know about them.

Sponsored by City Councilors Tito Jackson (Roxbury) and Frank Baker (Dorchester), Thursday’s hearing will take place at the Lila Frederick Pilot Middle School in Dorchester from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

"Sober homes" can provide recovering drug addicts with an affordable place and stable living environment while kicking the habit. But a recent Globe story showed that some have allegedly exploited their patients.

In Docherster residents have also mobilized around the issue. The Port Norfolk Civic Association in September, according to the Dorchester Reporter, took a vote to oppose a "sober home" on Lorenzo Street and in October the operator, Carl Smith, was arrested for allegedly taking part in a kickback scheme.

“There have been homes that have popped up that don’t go by the rules and the bottom line is we are trying to figure out what those rules are,” said Baker. “We are also concerned about patients that may be taken advantage by some of these operations.”

In Roxbury, according to Jackson’s office, concerns have been raised around a Fort Hill “sober home”.

“The issue is are these homes helping vulnerable people or are they putting them in a position where they are the victims of slum lords?” said Jackson.

Currently the state and the city have no way to regulate the homes because, according to a report released by the state, of federal regulations.

“The federal Fair Housing Amendment Act limits the Commonwealths’ and Bureau of Substance Abuse Services ability to implement mandatory licensure, regulation, and registration or certification requirements directed specifically at ADF housing providers and residents,” reads the report.

There is growing concern in the neighborhoods about some of the homes but Thursday’s meeting will also include representatives, invited by Baker and Jackson, from Oxford House, which will be on hand to explain to residents the benefits of a well run “sober home.''

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Email Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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