HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA.com) — Sober-living homes or “halfway houses” are a popular temptation-free housing option for recovering addicts, but many who live near the homes see them as a dangerous nuisance.
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher wants the hundreds of sober living homes across Orange County to be moved out of neighborhoods and into commercial areas.
“They’re putting drug addicts and alcoholics right next to ordinary families, which hurts their home values,” Rohrabacher says.
Some homeowners at Monday night’s meeting are worried. They say recovering addicts at sober-living homes are contributing to traffic problems, crime, noise and secondhand smoke.
“It’s destroying the integrity of our neighborhood,” Huntington Beach homeowner Harry Bray said.
Patricia Bray says while she doesn’t mind having one sober-living home on her street, she thinks three is too many.
“I think people are starting to think about moving and selling just to get out,” Bray said. “And I think the operators will be able to get the houses at a good deal and put more people into the houses on our same street.”
Some say the problem is bad sober-living home operators who don’t follow the rules.
But Rohrabacher says the problem is that homeowners are powerless to complain because recovering addicts are protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
“Which declares drug addicts and alcoholics to be disabled, and if they’re disabled, they’ve got no choice and you’ve got to take care of them,” he says. “But these people do have a choice.”
“That’s absolutely wrong,” one opponent said in response to Rohrabacher’s statement that addicts have a choice. “Alcoholics and addicts, their brains are wired differently. Where else are we gonna put these people? You can’t turn Catalina into Molokai.”