Frankel raises sober home gripes during House debate

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel took to the House floor on Thursday during debate on a sweeping drug abuse and overdose bill to push her mission to regulate sober homes.

The Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act, HR 5046 makes no mention of sober homes but Frankel said the “over-proliferation” of sober homes in neighborhoods is a related issue.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Assistant Secretary Gustavo Velasquez (right) and Congresswoman Lois Frankel (left) addressed members of the media in the Crest Theatre library in Delray Beach after meeting with local leaders to discuss sober homes Monday, May 2, 2016. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Assistant Secretary Gustavo Velasquez (right) and Congresswoman Lois Frankel (left) addressed members of the media in the Crest Theatre library in Delray Beach after meeting with local leaders to discuss sober homes Monday, May 2, 2016. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

“We are seeing thousands, thousands of sober homes in South Florida disrupting services and the health and safety of neighborhoods,” Frankel said during her brief comments in support of the bill. The unscrupulous operators of shady sober homes obstruct the recovery of addicts and do not help addicts integrate back into society, Frankel said.

While Florida lawmakers and local officials have struggled for years to reign in sober homes, Frankel took the cause to Washington last year when she announced that she would explore avenues for cities and counties to oversee sober homes while “protecting the rights of addicts.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act defines “disability” to include alcoholism and drug addiction. The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful for cities to discriminate on the basis of disability status, including addiction. Sober home operators have used these laws to fend off regulations on how and where they can operate.

Although Frankel’s efforts have gained widespread support, she rankled the media and some stakeholders when she met behind closed doors on May 2 with a high-ranking official of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)and about 30 local leaders after leading them on a tour of some Delray Beach sober homes.

Read more of The Post’s coverage of corruption in the county’s billion dollar drug treatment industry.

 

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