Sober Homes Revisited

What is happening in the Town of Lake Park with the issue of Sober Homes? A few years ago, that was one of the biggest issues within the town. Spending thousands of dollars to try to put a stop to them entering the town.

Well, since that time, the number of sober homes in the town has increase. In the last 3 years, the number of sober homes have more than doubled in numbers. We even have whole complexes that are sober homes. Why is this happening? Well, first there are no rules as to who can open a sober home. There are no licenses that are required except maybe a rental permit for a home to be used as a rental. A fee of about $35 dollars on average. There are no state laws that prohibit someone from opening a sober home. There’s no enforcement that can be done as to the number of people allowed in a home and many more things that can’t be enforced.

Most times, they claim that no more than 2 people per bedroom. Guess what? That is not always true. There are sober homes where they have as many as 6 beds in a room. The sober home from where the picture above came from had three bunk beds in each room. The home was a three-bedroom home with a total of eighteen people living in it. Right next door, was a home with a family of five. On the other side was another family of three. The complaints that they had was the noise but because the people in the sober home scared them that if they complain, they would make trouble for the home owners so they have to learn to live with it or they leave. Who wants to raise your kids up next to people who are always falling off the band wagon? You find beer cans, needles and other trash that they discard on to your property before they enter their own.

Sober homes today are what the pill mills were a few years back.

If you look around at other towns, they are having the same issues. The number of sober homes popping up in the county or even the state is growing every day. The operators of the sober homes earn money for each person. The more people packed into one house, the more money they can make.

On average, the sober home operator can make easy thousands of dollars per month. Guess, what? The money is coming from the government. They have classified drinking as an illness so many of the people in the sober homes don’t have money so the government steps in and pays their cost.

Then you have some of these sober homes that are really nothing more than a cover up for what is really happening within their walls. The was a sober home operator in St. Petersburg who is now in jail because he got caught using his sober homes as a cover to sell drugs while collecting money from the government. What a life?

Other people that end up in these sober homes or halfway houses are people who are getting out of jail and have no place to go. Again, the government pays for they since they have no job, no money and nowhere to go.

The Tampa Bay Times found the following:

• Several houses are run by felons with serious criminal records, including robbery, sexual assault and drug trafficking.
One operator was permanently barred from a federal housing program because of improper billing, yet started a new halfway house that is getting thousands of dollars from the same program.

• Residents of some halfway houses say drug abuse is rampant, and records show at least three people have overdosed and died at unregulated homes. Though such deaths are not unusual among recovering addicts, they underscore the need for oversight, experts say.

• One halfway house that touted “sober living” bused recovering alcoholics to sell beer at Raymond James Stadium. Another required resident to get their prescriptions filled at a pharmacy in a store plastered with neon beer signs.

• Residents have few protections under the law. Halfway houses can take their paychecks to cover rent and can kick them out at a moment’s notice.

On paper at least, transitional or sober home housing can be very lucrative. With two to six people per room, each paying $500, a run-down three-bedroom house can bring in$3,000 to over $15,000 a month.

Based on reports from the State of Florida, there are thousands of these homes popping up all over. In the small town of Lake Park, there are over 45 of them and most likely, there are even more than that. We just don’t know about them because they lay low or there has not been a problem yet. You can walk around the town and find a sober home on just about every street with in the town.

While I have no problem with people to get help with their addiction, I just believe that a business like this needs to be done where there is monitoring on site. They should not be located in neighborhoods where there are single family homes. Or if they are, they should be limited to only one person per room unless the people are true family such as two brothers or sisters.

Yes, I understand that they claim that they are trying to get the people in the sober homes to become independent so they can go out and get a job and live their life. But why do hard working people who are trying to make a safe home to raise their family need to live next to a home where there are six to eighteen recovering addicts living in the home next door? Who are most often loud, rude, and much more.

Why don’t the owner/operators place the sober homes next to their own home so they can watch and monitor what is happening? Because they don’t want to a sober home next to their home where they live. They really don’t care about anyone else. I bet you that if you were to get the houses next to a sober home owner and turned them into a sober home, they would pack up and move or they might even be the ones who go to town to fight you on it. Maybe that’s the law that they should pass. Make the owners of sober homes live within the sober home. They just might fade away.

Are you one of the lucky ones that are next to a sober home? Good luck.