There is no doubt Florida is a mecca for all things recovery – treatment centers, self- help and all types of recovery homes are prolific there. In recent travels through the Boca Raton/ Delray Beach area, I was amazed at the density of services – it seemed there was literally a center of some kind on every block. Just as prolific was the signage for ‘No Transient Housing’, often in front of centers and homes serving those seeking recovery – now called ‘transients’ by their community. These signs were largely a reaction to a battle waged between the City of Delray Beach and Caron Treatment Centers, a well known national treatment center that opened a beautiful, high end recovery home to serve their patients on coveted beach front land. Local government, spurred by neighbors concerned about possible devaluation to beach front property, sought to impose laws blocking the operation of this home. Courts granted an injunction in Caron’s favor in May, stating that the new transient codes could ‘unlawfully discriminate’ against a protected population.
This area of Florida has long struggled with the issue of recovery housing. While there are many excellent facilities run by involved, ethical operators, there have also been a sizeable number of those that are run by owners who provide no oversight, or those seeking to fill empty or unsalable property. The ensuing overcrowding and unruly behavior in these homes has elicited negative community reaction for all recovery residences in the area. And until now, there has been no standard or accountability for recovery homes in Florida.
Nancy Steiner, Executive Director for The Sanctuary in Delray Beach, is leading the charge to change that. As a founding board member of the National Association of Recovery Residences (NARR), she has been tasked with bringing standards to Florida, and has facilitated the creation of a state/regional association. FARR (Florida Association of Recovery Residences) has quickly gained momentum and support from all facets of the recovery community. She states, “we are working diligently to attract those interested in raising the standards for recovery residences here in Florida. We have had a lot of interest, and committees are meeting regularly. We are reaching out to treatment centers to collaborate as a continuum of care, and identify those homes and programs that are meeting the standards which NARR has put into practice. Informational meetings are being held, as well, and we feel that the last few months have been very productive. FARR will be represented on the Drug Task Force in Delray Beach, and reaching out to do the same for other counties offering these services. We have recently added our voice to the recovery community in Palm Beach County as a sponsor at the 'Harvesting Your Recovery' at the Florida South County Fairgrounds on September 23rd, and the REEL recovery film festival November 2-4 in Ft. Lauderdale. FARR will have a website up and running with lots of information very soon, (we are in the final stages of design) and we are striving for strong FARR representation at the upcoming conference in Orlando at NCAD September 28 – October 2. We are hoping for a huge Florida turnout for the NARR reception at that event.”
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