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Letters: Sober homes are a source of problems

"Sober homes on LI" [News, Nov. 16] provides a reasonable look at the situation, yet it would be premature to throw blanket support behind treatment-program-affiliated sober homes.

While acknowledging the work and commitment of Seafield sober homes in Flanders to provide quality housing, the rest of the track record here in Suffolk includes two large state licensed treatment program networks, identified as the biggest major culprits on record. Both ended up being shuttered after the Long Island Congregations, Associations and Neighborhoods' leaders pressed the State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services to take action. Another program folded under intense private pressure. As portrayed in the article, there have also been many incidents involving privately owned homes.

There have been both good and bad outfits, both independent and state-licensed. Suffolk County deserves credit for proactive steps, yet it was years of work by community leaders that provided the true impetus for change.

As state officials deflect oversight responsibility, Suffolk County's plan needs to be more comprehensive to encompass all affiliated and private operators.

Richard Buckman, Dix Hills

Editor's note: The writer is the president of the Long Island Recovery Association, a grassroots organization dealing with addiction.

Your article raised some concerns for me. First, the fact that these "sober homes" are in poor and minority communities is a problem. These areas are more affected by drugs and crime. By placing the "sober homes" in these areas, we are setting them up for failure.

A better model may be found in the program Moving to Opportunity, which is implemented by the U.S. Department of Urban Housing, and seeks to move families from low-income poverty-stricken areas to low-poverty areas. This program provides these families with the opportunities to thrive in a different environment. Environments play a key role in the success of individuals.

Furthermore, as your article points out, landlords running these homes can take financial advantage of their tenants. The tenants, who are previous drug users, are extremely vulnerable, which can make them targets. As the article says, New York spends more than $350 million annually for hospital-based detoxification programs. It would be a shame to let addicts relapse in sober homes, after spending so much effort to get them off drugs.

The concept of a sober home is good, but conditions must change before they can actually be effective.

Konstance Teleisha, Hempstead

The lack of legislation pertaining to sober housing hurts the larger community. I have lived in Patchogue across from a "sober" house for 15 years. As I write this letter, I can hear blasting music coming from the house. There is nothing "sober" about this house.

The lack of supervision has resulted in fights on the street, complete with baseball bats and pipes. We have had men urinating on our property, yelling obscenities at all hours, blatant drug use and drug dealing, prostitution, loitering, and individuals passed out on the street. My children have found hypodermic needles, drug baggies and empty beer cans in front of our home.

We have tried writing letters to local politicians, collecting petitions, appearing on local news shows and working with the police. Nothing has changed.

Lynette Murphy, Patchogue