I write in response to the article: “A Good Approach to Fix Challenge of Sober Homes” which piece entirely overlooks the point – we must first fix our own prejudices against people who seek relief from the disease of addiction before we can begin to intelligently discuss whatever problems may exist.
The Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act are not the absolute shields from regulation that many believe them to be. However, before regulation will be allowed, our Constitution demands that government sponsored prejudice and intolerance be eliminated.
In each and every federal case on point about regulation of sober living transitional residences, the courts had to strike down the law not because the FHA and ADA held absolute prohibitions to regulation. Rather, the courts unequivocally refused to participate in the local municipality’s disgraceful exercise of intolerance and disdain for the handicapped.
The reason The Caron Foundation of Florida easily won its lawsuit against the City of Delray Beach was not because of the power of the FHA and ADA. Rather, then-Planning & Zoning Board Chairperson and now Mayor Cary Glickstein, as well as the throngs of citizens who appear to enjoy the regular verbal lynching of these disabled citizens, sincerely believed and continue it believe that people in recovery are a “cancerous scourge which must be removed from the city.” The federal courts of our nation have not and will not condone this type of mentality in the 21st Century.
Representative Bill Hager is but another state elected leader who fails or refuses to acknowledge long-established federal law. His newsletters call for swift state action before these people of “inherent criminality” are allowed to fester. When asked to provide the data and evidence that he relied upon to substantiate his very public comments that “more than 50% of all crime committed in Delray Beach is caused by people in recovery,” Representative Hager’s office refused to acknowledge that there is no modicum of reliable evidence to substantiate these claims.
If similarly reckless assertions were made by any elected leader about any other “subgroup” of our society, calls for impeachment, or a public apology at a minimum, would be forthcoming. But slander the Recovery Community, and no one calls for a moment to contemplate the road we are heading down. Not even our journalists.
Florida has the rare opportunity to show true national leadership to take the lead and demonstrate that it can accept people in recovery.
Get past prejudice and the solution will present itself.
But until we get to that point, the people of the United States and the Department of Justice are not going to tolerate prejudice codified into statute.