Homeowners say process of adopting new guidelines to limit sober homes is taking too long

New sober home to open in suburban Boynton Beach
Posted at 7:19 PM, Dec 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-09 19:19:20-05

Saturday marks exactly one month since the federal government gave cities new guidelines on how to regulate sober homes.

Some cities are jumping at the opportunity to update their laws. But for many homeowners the process is taking too long.

It must be important if about one dozen neighbors can meet in the middle of a workday.

This group of suburban Boynton Beach homeowners is afraid of who's moving in down the block: a home for women recovering from addiction.

“A lot of us have been here for over 20 years, our houses are paid off, we're not going anywhere,” said Amy, who didn’t want us to use her last name. “And now we're stuck with this element in our family neighborhood.”

Last month the Department of Housing and Urban Development along with the Department of Justice issued guidelines to help local municipalities limit where these centers can go without violating non-discrimination laws.

The limitations include only allowing so many sober homes in a certain area. And denying applications based on the administrative and financial burden it puts on municipalities. 

Cities like Delray Beach and Boynton Beach have already started incorporating those new guidelines into city laws. Just this week, Boynton Beach leaders voted to put a moratorium on permitting any new group homes until the commission approves updated laws.

But Amy and her neighbors live in unincorporated Palm Beach County. The deputy county administrator said his staff is reviewing the guidelines and discussing options with other cities.

“We want to keep our neighborhoods safe, but we also need to protect people with disabilities. Federal law requires it and it's the humane thing to do. So by sharing ideas, we'll get the best practices,” said US Representative Lois Frankel.

The congresswoman called for those guidelines. Monday, she's meeting with county and city leaders to help them draft laws limiting these homes in residential areas by using the guidelines.

It might be too late for Amy’s neighborhood.

The owners of the treatment center on her block did not return calls from NewsChannel 5.