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Delray Beach One Vote Away From New Sober Home Regulations

Bernard Spragg. NZ
via Flickr/Creative Commons

Delray Beach city officials have been hearing complaints from residents for years: sober homes are crowding us out.

The sober living facilities are intended to integrate recovering drug and alcohol users back into community life. But a lack of oversight coupled with widespread corruption has led to a proliferation of sober homes in some neighborhoods. A recent report estimated there are 247 sober homes operating in the city.

With relapse rates hovering around 80 percent for opioid users, the high concentration of sober homes in Delray Beach has contributed to an overdose epidemic in the city.

Now, Delray Beach is one step closer to tightening regulations on sober homes.

City commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to adopt an ordinance that would require sober living facilities to register and be certified by the Florida Association of Recovery Residences.

It’s the first of two votes required to put the law on the books.

The proposed ordinance would also prevent clustering by limiting new group homes to one per block.

Delray Beach Mayor Cary Glickstein says the measure would better create the integrated community atmosphere the sober living concept is based upon.

“When you are creating so many of these homes clustered together and you're packing so many people into a home, you're not recreating that family environment,” said Glickstein. “In fact, you're creating a very unhealthy environment because it makes it very easy for outside forces to undermine that recovery.”

City officials say the ordinance was written carefully as not to discriminate against recovering drug users, who are protected by federal disability laws.


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Peter Haden is an award-winning investigative reporter and photographer currently working with The Center for Investigative Reporting. His stories are featured in media outlets around the world including NPR, CNN en Español, ECTV Ukraine, USA Today, Qatar Gulf Times, and the Malaysia Star.