The event salutes the legacies of three dynamic recovery trailblazers who dedicated their lives to removing barriers for individuals and families affected by addiction – Dr. Vernon E. Johnson and recovery advocates Joel Hernandez and Lisa Mojer-Torres.
The 2016 Vernon Johnson Award recognizes three individuals who have given back to their communities so that future generations can experience the reality of recovery.
The 2016 Individual Advocate Award has been given to the amazing Steven G. Polin, Esq., an attorney in private practice in Washington, DC. He has been in long term recovery since December, 1984. His practice focuses primarily on the application of the Federal Fair Housing Act as it pertains to persons with disabilities residing in a group living environment. His work applies the Federal Fair Housing Act to exclusionary zoning laws, practices and regulations as it pertains to preventing or interfering sober living environments ability to exist in single family neighborhoods. He also serves as General Counsel to Oxford House, Inc. and has represented and continues to represent Oxford House in numerous zoning issues involving multiple municipalities throughout the country. His practice is national in scope and he also represents other providers of housing for persons in recovery from alcoholism and substance abuse in such jurisdictions as Florida, California, Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland and New Jersey.
Steven has been extraordinarily influential in defining and protecting legal rights for those in recovery. He was convicted of a drug felony and sentenced to prison in 1984 . After his release from prison, he moved into an Oxford House in 1986. He then became the first cocaine addict volunteer for the D.C. Bar’s Lawyer’s Counseling program. He followed up on his application for admission to the Bar. After the DC Court of Appeals rejected his first application for admission in 1991 he again re-applied, took the Bar exam and passed and asked the court to reconsider. It did and in 1993 the DC Court of Appeals accepted his reapplication and he was admitted to the Bar. His case set an important precedent that drug addiction was a disease and rehabilitation was possible. During this time he worked for Oxford House, where he was able to use his legal skills to use the Federal Fair House to successful combat efforts to zone Oxford House’s out of single family neighborhoods.
Mr. Polin is a 1995 recipient of the Public Justice Achievement Award, Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, for his outstanding contributions to the protection of civil rights and the public interest as co-counsel in Lebens v. Country Creek Association, Inc. 1995. In addition, in 2000, he was the recipient of the Founder’s Award, Oxford House, Inc., for leadership and perseverance in ensuring equal protection under the law for Oxford House residents and Oxford House expansion
We are also proud to call Steve a dear friend and ally in the ongoing defense of the civil rights and civil liberties of all Americans.