The Never-Ending March Towards Deinstitutionalization

The City of Delray Beach in conjunction with other well-heeled municipalities have been lobbying the U.S. Department of Justice and HUD to “water down” their Joint Statement on the Fair Housing Act as it relates to people with disabilities, including housing for people with substance use disorder, so that they will be able to start regulating sober living residences (i.e., recovery residences) within their jurisdictions.

They view the nations law enforcement agency for civil rights as the last remaining roadblock to being able to get control over the spread of recovery residences throughout single family residential neighborhoods.

If their intentions were to help people in recovery, I would be fully supportive.

The reality is, however, that they are trying to placate a continuing uneducated electorate which views “halfway houses” as unwelcomed visitors to their communities.

Sadly, perhaps, the vision of President JKF back in 1963 to create community-based residential so as to deinstitutionalize the care of people who are otherwise not a threat to themselves or others is constantly under attack.  The alternative always has been, and will remain for now, severely underfunded state social service agencies which continue to understaff their positions and fill their ranks with mostly unqualified individuals.

Most recently, the State of New York settled at $2.25MM case for the beating death of a disabled resident at the hands of state employees.  New York closed the center near Albany at the end of March as planned, part of a shift from institutions for the developmentally disabled to community residences and group homes.

Our national priorities continue to be shifted away from caring for the less fortunate and towards maximizing personal profit.  This is less of a criticism or soapbox argument as opposed to a clear reflection that we, as a nation, have lost our way.

Ironincally, perhaps, those who have “hit bottom” and have discovered that strength lies in true, compassionate communities are better served as human beings.

That human vulnerability is actually our strength.

About Jeffrey Lynne

Jeffrey C. Lynne is a South Florida native, representing individuals and business entities relating to licensing, accreditation, regulatory compliance, business structure, marketing, real estate, zoning and litigation pertaining to substance abuse treatment facilities and sober living residences. Mr. Lynne has been recognized across the region as a leader in progressive public dialogue about the role that substance abuse treatment has within our communities and the fundamental need and right to provide safe and affordable housing for those who are both in treatment for addiction and alcoholism as well as those who are established in their recovery.

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