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Sober homes: $500 a bed per person, $10,000 a month per house
April 18, 2013 7:10 PM   Subscribe

A growing new real estate market. Many homeowners are frightened by the prospect of transitional housing in their neighborhoods. But the operators of sober living facilities argue that the homes don't violate zoning regulations because the Americans with Disabilities Act includes recovering addicts.
posted by spamandkimchi (19 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Also meant to include this - The 10 best sober living cities in America.
posted by spamandkimchi at 7:13 PM on April 18, 2013


I don't understand what a sober home/living facility actually is. Is it just a rooming house with a rule against alcohol?
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:48 PM on April 18, 2013


In my neighborhood these have started to spring up. They're the new tenements, run by truly awful people to prey on those with disability checks.
posted by Homeskillet Freshy Fresh at 7:49 PM on April 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Not too keen on this summary. Sounds like the problem is that this category of facility is an opportunity for sketchy people to cash in by not providing the kind of supervision that even a run of the mill homeless shelter provides, not that it's drawing attention from NIMBYs.
posted by ocschwar at 7:59 PM on April 18, 2013


Seeing these in the UK as well -- along with the emergence, for the first time ever, of for-profit drug treatment provision.

Is it just a rooming house with a rule against alcohol?

Pretty much. The ones that I'm familiar with also have affiliations with private treatment providers, so people staying there also have some measure of support. That said, the quality of the treatment is pretty shitty. Unqualified workers paid little more than minimum wage in their first job after using for 20+ years.

Drug treatment has been pretty much the spearhead of NHS privatisation in the UK.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:03 PM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not too keen on this summary. Sounds like the problem is that this category of facility is an opportunity for sketchy people to cash in by not providing the kind of supervision that even a run of the mill homeless shelter provides, not that it's drawing attention from NIMBYs.

The former doesn't imply that the latter isn't also a problem.
posted by ripley_ at 8:08 PM on April 18, 2013


I've personally been struck by how many posh eating disorder living facilities have quite strict rules against cutting. So they get a patient population with a high probability of many with borderline traits and a propensity for cutting, extract $$$ to $$$$ per month from them for rent (in advance), then kick them to the ED/street when they cut, cancel their residence, and keep the rent treatment payment. Unsure if the extremely high-end alcohol recovery centres operate the same way, but at $30K-$50K/month, these are a world away from these "sober living" facilities.
posted by meehawl at 9:17 PM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


This has been quietly growing rapidly since insurance companies stopped paying for the 28 day inpatient program heyday of the 80's. In San Pedro Ca, outside of LA, there were 42 recovery house, sober living type houses. It started with two in the 70's, one for women and one for men. Then one for addicts was started in the mid 80's. People graduated from these programs and thought, "what the hell I can do this too". It pretty much went downhill from that point.

It has created a new level of non-recovery in people. It is like a 12 step ghetto in some neighborhoods. For some, especially the mentally ill, it has filled a hole in the system, which is a good thing for them. But you end up with a bunch of people living in a single family home next door and the owners tend to have houses that are close to one another. It is easier to manage them that way.

CA does have a licensing agency but most skirt the issue by calling themselves sober living facilities rather than offering any kind of structured treatment like the old-school recovery homes did.

Too many in one neighborhood can be a bad thing. What is the solution? I have no idea.
posted by cairnoflore at 9:19 PM on April 18, 2013


You pay upfront and if you leave, you leave the cash behind. Great system for the owners.
posted by cairnoflore at 9:20 PM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Forget zoning rules, the biggest threat to sober houses here in my neck of the woods is cuts to General Assistance. (Temporary cash assistance to temporarily disabled single adults.) Sober living houses generally make their income off a combination of GA payments and food stamps. Take away the GA payments and the whole system goes poof.

Recovery houses aren't a perfect solution, but surely having a roof over your head while you try and get sober is better than trying to do it on the streets with lots of people using around you, yes?

"It's hard not to wonder cynically if this transfer of poor addicts from recovery house cots to jail cell bunks is really something [governor] Corbett is doing by accident."
posted by ActionPopulated at 10:02 PM on April 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I saw a lot of ads for these on Craigslist while trying to find an apartment in LA. I wondered what it was about and where exactly these places were. Also, they all seemed like a really bad deal, to me. For another couple hundred dollars, you could have a whole apartment in a perfectly nice neighborhood.

A thought: do these setups prey on people who would have a hard time finding something better for other reasons? I'm thinking credit checks, horrendous background check results, the ability to present themselves as normal high functioning people when meeting with a potential roommate?
posted by Sara C. at 10:04 PM on April 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't understand what a sober home/living facility actually is. Is it just a rooming house with a rule against alcohol?

Someone who is a recovering addict turns over their (entire, usually) disability checks for the promise of basically living with an AA-like group 24/7. It can be quite scammy.
posted by Malice at 1:40 AM on April 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd be drunk again in 3 days if I had to live like that
posted by thelonius at 4:16 AM on April 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Back in 2005, there was a King of the Hill episode along these lines.
posted by box at 5:27 AM on April 19, 2013


These places are horrible. If I had no other choice, I'd move someplace where living out-doors year-round didn't suck.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 6:16 AM on April 19, 2013


It has created a new level of non-recovery in people.

I'd be curious to know what this means to you. Is it that people are becoming dependent for the long term on a place that is supposed to be transitional? They never move on to succeeding in remaining sober while living independently of any kind of "recovery" facility?
posted by thelonius at 9:41 AM on April 19, 2013


After one of my sister's stints in rehab we had a problem, where could she go? she'd burned all bridges with any of us, it was not safe for any of us to have her in our home BUT she was clean and wanted to stay that way so...she lived in a sketchy sober house for a few weeks, realized it was not a good environment for her, moved into my mom's, again and to everyone's general worry, stayed there a few months until she got enough money together then moved out on her own.
My mom say what a struggle this was and thought she could help. she bought a house and hired a woman from my sister's rehab to be the den mother and voila sober house. The den mom stole all the furniture and relapsed, the other women were left pretty much screwed, my mom got no money to cover the mortgage. It was all around awful and honestly I don't know how that situation could have been less awful really.
There's definitely a need for transitional housing that's not...gross, but how to make it feasible, I have no idea.
posted by yodelingisfun at 5:24 PM on April 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thelonius, What it means to me is that some of the population in these places just bounce from one to the other...they use and get the boot and move in down the street. Or they bounce in and out from jail. The good part of this, is, that they are not on the streets. The bad part.. they never are forced, out of desparation to deal with the choices they make that have created the merry-go-round they are on.

It really sucks if you really have no place left to go...it can be a very sobering moment.

I do feel they have been a good thing in a general way for the dually addicted mentally ill. Not everyone is on GR and SSI. Some people are working and bouncing around.

And not all of them totally suck...some actually do offer support and have helped people...it pays to do your research if your ever in need of such a place.
posted by cairnoflore at 5:34 PM on April 19, 2013


Thanks.....that's more grim than what I had in mind, which was sort of people getting stuck and not moving on when it was time, but it makes sense that there would be a rotating population like you describe around these places.

The dual diagnosis....in alcohol related chat rooms, I have talked to some people who had concerns that were really serious psychiatric problems going on too. I have nothing against almost anything that is going to make their life better: that's a hell of a hard road.
posted by thelonius at 9:03 PM on April 19, 2013


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