Florida may test whether states can regulate ‘sober homes’

Operators of single-family homes that have been converted into drug and alcohol rehabs could face new restrictions designed to address fears that unregulated “sober homes” are proliferating and changing the character of some Florida neighborhoods.

In Broward and Palm Beach counties, foreclosed homes were bought on the cheap and turned into rehabs that serve a wide range of clientele, from wealthy people from around the country to locals who are ordered into treatment by courts, the Sun Sentinel’s Anthony Man reports.

Pompano Beach Commissioner Charlotte Burrie complains, “Right now there are no regulations whatsoever.” Delray Beach Mayor Gary Glickstein says, “It’s the Wild West.”

Some Florida lawmakers want to require that sober houses register with the state, show proof of fire, safety and health inspections, and demonstrate that they are in compliance with local zoning ordinances.

But James Green, a lawyer who has successfully challenged attempts by Florida cities to restrict sober homes, says people recovering from drug and alcohol addictions are a protected class under the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act.

State and local officials are hoping federal agencies will change their interpretation of fair housing laws to give cities some leeway to regulate group homes in residential areas. Source: sun-sentinel.com.


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