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12/7/2012 9:59:00 PM
'Rehab capital of the West': Prescott tackles complaints about group homes, recovery centers
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Photos.com
Cindy Barks
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - Since he took office on the Prescott City Council two years ago, Charlie Arnold estimates he has fielded dozens of calls and inquiries relating to one topic: the number of rehab centers and group homes locating in the city.

Depending on the location of the homes, Arnold said the comments from area residents run the gamut - everything from concerns about large numbers of group-home residents taking over the seating in local businesses, to the state of disrepair of some of the group homes, to the number of cars parked in front of the homes.

This week, the full City Council broached the issue. Assistant City Attorney Matthew Podracky led off Tuesday's discussion by noting that the "proliferation of rehab centers in town" has generated many city discussions through the years.

"In the six years I've been here, we've had this discussion about 10 times," Podracky said, adding that the topic "always tends to be controversial."

Basically, officials say the U.S. Fair Housing Act prohibits the city from treating residential group homes for the disabled any differently than it treats other single-family homes.

That, in turn, ties the city's hands in many respects, they say.

"For the most part, there is nothing the city can do to prevent someone from opening a home and putting eight people in it," Arnold said.

Meanwhile, he added, "We're quickly becoming known as the rehab capital of the West."

While everyone on the council appeared to agree that many of the community's rehab centers and group homes do good work, Arnold said, "There also are the ones that are not providing good services. That is why we're getting the phone calls."

While the city has virtually no way of limiting or regulating such homes, Arnold said, "If we're going to be the rehab capital of the West, why can't we be the best one?"

To that end, he suggested the formation of a private-sector group - facilitated by the city - that would work to resolve issues with group homes.

On Wednesday, Arnold said he envisions an industry-led group that would help to regulate itself. The motivation for such a group would be the possibility that the issues from poorly run homes eventually could lead to involvement and/or regulation by the State Legislature.

Arnold said he hopes to get the word out about the coming effort within the next several weeks. An initial meeting of the industry-led group could take place before Christmas, he said.

Councilman Chris Kuknyo agreed that issues frequently arise with neighborhood group homes. For instance, he questioned whether all of the homes have policies in effect for how to deal with "people who wash out of these programs."

Without such a policy, he said, those people face the danger of becoming homeless in Prescott.

"We want these people to get better, but it needs to be a professional operation," Kuknyo said.

He maintained that while professionals in other fields must be certified to operate in the community, those who guide people out of drug and alcohol addiction have no such oversight. "All you have to do is have a home," Kuknyo said.

Discussion also arose about the city's definition of a single-family home. Currently, the city code allows any number of related persons or not more than eight unrelated people to live in a single-family home.

Councilman Steve Blair questioned the city's choice of allowing up to eight unrelated people in a group home.

"Do we have the right as a city to change that?" Blair asked. He suggested that the city should look into reducing the limit "so somebody can't use their house as a cash cow."

Podracky responded that communities across the country have limits ranging from five to 12 unrelated people in single-family homes.

On Wednesday, Podracky said he planned to research the matter further to determine whether Prescott could reduce its number.

Although the City Council has an "inherent right" to make such a change, Podracky said, "It could create some issues."

A closer look at the city's limit likely will be part of the ongoing discussion, he said.





Related Stories:
• Prescott Council contemplates more regulation for recovery group homes


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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2013
Article comment by: Long-time Business Owner

This is for Alan and anyone else that wants to spout their uneducated opinion without doing any research. You have no idea what these people are taxed. If you saw how much taxes we pay as a licensed treatment center you would probably s... your pants. I'm not even kidding.

Second, we keep our homes in the best condition. They could probably be showcased in a magazine. We take the time to make sure our neighbors don't have any complaints and if they do we address them in a professional manner.

As far as cesspools of humanity, well you should probably go take a long look in the mirror. People we work with are taught to contribute to the community in a positive way. They get jobs and learn to pay taxes. They learn to give back to the community and to show compassion to people, which you are clearly lacking.

I agree that there need to be regulations for places that remain unlicensed. It is not ok for people to open up shop in neighborhoods who have no business being there, but you also need to be careful who you point that finger at.


Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Article comment by: Hooty Hoo

Alan Dale has it right. They come here because they are allowed to set up in a residential area. Remember that guy's house he rented to some "church" of rehab next to the gradeschool? It took months of lawyering up to get them out of there. Another Business Owner has it right: it's a bad clientele and only the homeowner profits.

Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Article comment by: Rita Stricker

"Rehab capital of the west." Who comes up with this stuff? Oh, yeah, those who profit from your fear of "the other." Here's an idea -- if you don't want "dopers" on the streets of your fair city, STOP PUTTING THEM THERE. If you don't want your landscape cluttered up with rehab homers, stop supporting laws that create the demand for them. And if you don't want to give people a hand up, stop knocking them down. The destruction of human life and liberty is not an "unintended consequence" of the drug war -- it's the WHOLE POINT. Forget baseball, mass incarceration is America's national pastime. I, for one, would love to see you try to support your favorite hobby without the tax revenue provided by the rehab community.

Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Article comment by: alan dale

Prescott attracts these rehab joints because they are allowed to set up shop in a residential neighborhood, and taxed as a residence rather than the business they are.

They are a blight on every neighborhood they squat in. Much more than on the city of Prescott in general.

If they had to follow the laws as businesses instead of a residence, Prescott would not be infested with these cesspools of humanity that overflow into our community of working and law-abiding citizens.


Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Article comment by: Al-anon Business, life growth

Thank you for commenting on here. I say this because you actually took some time to research some data before just shooting off your opinion and presenting it as facts. I looked up your references that you provided and sure enough, Prescott crime rate has been on the decline and the violent crime rate has been the same... this is for the last 8-9 years. Again, great job in researching and presenting FACTS.. I love Prescott. I love the growth and although I'm always resistant to change at first, once I let go, it always goes ok.

Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Article comment by: NOT A GOOD ENVIRONMENT

to be raising your children today, with so many rehab youths on our streets. This is a dangerous scenario for the younger, more vulnerable children. Everything in moderation, and that includes limiting the amount of these "rehab homes".

Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Article comment by: Devel O. Per

Hey, Doobie, is your proposed combination halfway house/marijuana dispensary/sports bar/brothel open for investors? Seems like a sound investment idea to me. It should be in great demand and I believe will make plenty money for everyone involved. The price of pork is up, so could we consider adding a hog-raising operation to the mix? We could hire from the rehab bunch, recruiting them from those many who will be frequenting our establishment. They will need a bit side work (We can pay cash so as to avoid complicating their rehab/welfare status, Social Security and withholding tax, and the like.), especially if we remain open 24/7 for allowed services. If we get the right lobbyist, lawyer, and lavishly entertain the right people, we should be able to get the plan past P&Z and Council. After all, it is a development/social welfare/housing-related business proposal. Really, I want in before all the "connected" money gets their hooks into it.

Posted: Monday, December 10, 2012
Article comment by: Prescott Lover

I know I can't change anyone's mind here, but I am proud of our rehab community. I know, I can hear the screams now, but this is a comment based on my personal knowledge and experience. I'm sure the negative experiences that have been conveyed are valid to the writers, but my positive ones are just as relevant. We have excellent centers that are employing some of the best in the business. I would like to thank those that make this a professional and successful business. I hope you make money, because you make people better.

Posted: Monday, December 10, 2012
Article comment by: Marshall Good

As a Prescott native who moved away 20 years ago but comes back every few years to visit, it just blows me away what sort of increase in homeless people and general riff raff there has been in that time.

I mean, really, it's remarkable.

Just to throw out a few opinions.

1. Rehab centers are mostly run as businesses and are meant to make a living for somebody.
2. They rarely do any good. That's not to say that a few people don't benefit now and again.
3. The people they attract are largely going to stick around, just from sheer inertia.

So, you get to see the results.

I can excuse the increase in traffic over the last 50+ years, but purposefully importing trouble is just plain stupid.


Posted: Monday, December 10, 2012
Article comment by: Doobie Howser

Half of the them already have medical marijuana cards. What we need now is a combination halfway house/marijuana dispensary/sports bar/brothel. Who's in?

Posted: Monday, December 10, 2012
Article comment by: Another Business Owner

This obviously isn't a black and white issue. I have a good friend who came to this town from out of state for rehab, successfully completed the program and now has a professional job in the area. I also know several successful business owners in Prescott that went through some sort of program when they were down and out. With that said I myself am a downtown business owner and agree with the mounting frustration of both the sheer number of rehabs in town and the undisciplined youth they are bringing to the downtown area. For those who want us business owners names I will offer a trade. You give me your home address so on a daily basis I can send over a group of 10-20 young men to come smoke, swear, obnoxiously tell stories about how they got here in the first place, put out their cigarettes on the side of your house, block the entrance to your house, oh yeah just so you know this will go on for several hours. In return I will tell you the name of my business so you can avoid it, joined by of course all the other people already avoiding it because of the 20 or so smoking, swearing, disrespectful youths previously mentioned. The point is on both sides their are strong feeling but that doesn't change the fact that something has to change. Just like any other 'big' business the peoples best interest is not always a consideration. With some of these homes charging upwards of $6000 a month person (you do the math) this has definitely become big business. I think Charlie's idea of some sort of governing organization would be a good start.

Posted: Monday, December 10, 2012
Article comment by: A PROUD MOM

Having raised my children as a single parent, I fail to see how these "spoiled" children end up in rehab with no guidance at all. No reason for this if the love and guidance comes from the home first, Saying NO is something the parents of today need to learn, but with themselves first. I sacrificed alot to give the time and attention to my children who graduated high school, went to college, and now are responsible adults to society.

Posted: Monday, December 10, 2012
Article comment by: Mr Maverick

Oh, but the new juvenile detention center is pretty? It should be razed before further construction is done. I do not know who or what group of fools OKed this project. How can we build a juvenile detention center when we cannot even pay to keep the Prescott jail running? This sounds like massive mis-management of funds again.

Posted: Monday, December 10, 2012
Article comment by: Limit The Rehab Homes

Too many rehab homes do make make a pretty sight. Limit the amount of homes in this small community and put them to work or volunteer program. Why are so many just hanging around all day, don't they attend school? A void mind only contributes to destruction. Our tax money could go to a better choice.

Posted: Monday, December 10, 2012
Article comment by: to little reminder...

"Destroy all traces of the poor and needy"

Me thinks your compassion is misplaced! These are not the poor and needy going to our rehabs! They are the spoiled children of rich families back east! Send them back and re-take Prescott!


Posted: Monday, December 10, 2012
Article comment by: Legal Snooper

Bobbie Fields comments should go directly to the City Council. Finally some critical thinking.

Information about the investment LLC that owns the rehab properties on Gurley can be obtained on computer from the County Assessor...and from there google Arizona Corporation Commission and enter the investment companies name...voila...interesting that the are Prescott residents and may even be your neighbors. Worth investigating.


Posted: Sunday, December 09, 2012
Article comment by: Bobby Fields

WOW, the comments are long on complaints and short on suggestions for addressing the issuer, or perceived issues.

I hope the City Council backs up a few steps and actually DEFINES the problem before figuring out how to fix it. What is the problem here, exactly? Here are a t least a few of the perceived problems:

1) Businesses (rehab facilities) that may be operating outside of existing city/state regulations.
2) The possibility of fly-by-night rehab centers that are not qualified to be helping in addicts' recovery, thus only making money and not providing a viable service.
3) The possibility of fly-by-night rehab facilities not providing a safe and sanitary environment for people to live in.
4) Perceived problems with crime, vagrancy, etc, whether by current or failed "rehabbers".

These are only a few, maybe there are more. The point being, you can't come up with a viable solution to a "problem" if you don't have a good idea of what the problem actually is.

I don't think an industry-led group is best suited to address the issue, because they clearly have no incentive to change anything. I think it should be a community issue. Law enforcement, the rehab facilities themselves, business owners, and city representatives are some of the folks/entities that should be involved.

We shouldn't be so quick to want to run the rehab facilities out of town with pitchforks and torches. Anyone who fails to recognize the devastation of addiction, or the necessity for quality rehab options, needs to check their moral compass to see if it still works.


Posted: Sunday, December 09, 2012
Article comment by: dog on

@ the "moms", I have no idea what the success rate for a normal recovery program is but the statistics for my own personal experience with people actively in rehab is 100% failure. Sure it could be that I'm a jerk for expecting someone to do their absolute best when they are representing my company (and getting paid well for it) but for now since I'm the one with something to lose if things don't go well I'll continue to avoid hiring people actively in rehab. I've been doing quite nicely now with the crews I have. Some of them are even capable of having some beers after a hard day at work and, remarkably, showing up the next day fully prepared to give me their best.
My original point was in response to a suggestion about having the clients of these homes go to businesses to get some job training and work experience. I was offering my input on actual experience trying to do just that. For me it did not work.


Posted: Sunday, December 09, 2012
Article comment by: Business, Life, and Growth

This is disheartening as so many people here are seemingly so worried about growth. I am in recovery as a result of the available options in this town. Thank God for such good options! Secondly, I know a physicist, college professor, famous actor, licensed therapists, multiple prominent business owners, teachers, dentists, and doctors that all got a start with their life by going through a rehabilitation center here in Prescott. If there are problems, we can fix them! Is anyone aware that the crime rates are overall on the decline? According to the US Department of Justice, the property crime rate has actually been on the decline in Prescott since 2003 and the violent crime rate has been close to consistent since 2003 (U.S. Department of Justice, 2010). So, how can people be complaining? Does anyone in here who is complaining have any statistics to back up their frustration? The reality is that many of the people that any of us interact with in grocery stores, restaurants, doctors offices, and many more places are in recovery due to the gift of the magnificent opportunities available here.

In regards to financial growth for the city in general, no significant numbers of increase were reported. However, the city's last comprehensive financial report did maintain that "over $6 million in media coverage value was realized by Prescott without purchase" (City of Prescott, 2012, p. 4). Thus, we could solve some of the financial issues by having a fee/tax for those rehabilitation centers using aspects of the city for marketing purposes. This is just one of many ways that the rehab industry can coexist and enhance the growth of this great city.

References

City of Prescott. (2012, June 30). Comprehensive annual financial report. Retrieved from http://www.cityofprescott.net/_d/cafrfy2012final.pdf

U.S. Department of Justice. (2010, March 29). Uniform crime reporting statistics. Retrieved from http://www.ucrdatatool.gov/Search/Crime/Local/RunCrimeJurisbyJuris.cfm


Posted: Sunday, December 09, 2012
Article comment by: HANG AROUNDS

I've noticed that most of these "youths" come into the local library in droves with nothing to do but play their video games, then it's off to the courthouse square to loiter. Not a pretty sight for an out-of-towner visiting or a recent re-locater.

Posted: Sunday, December 09, 2012
Article comment by: Too Risky it's a safety issue

It's a safety issue. If this rehabbers break the rules, they are dumped out onto Prescott streets. Great, now, in addition to the vagrants downtown, we have dopers. Thanks Council for allowing so many unregulated facilities in town. Especially downtown. I thought our 'historic downtown' was supposed to draw tourist not druggies.

Posted: Sunday, December 09, 2012
Article comment by: Brian Boru

There are two issues here. Separate, but connected.

1. The rehab joints, themselves.

2. The "graduates", dropouts or expelled hanging around Prescott, making the town look like skid row. Well, almost. And their poor behavior and habits.

Many people stay away from downtown and the depot area because of all the bums.

Many people who use the NF campgrounds also have to put up with the bums who get vouchers. We have had several camping stays ruined by their crime, noise and Sheriff visits. They drink, fight, yell and steal your stuff. I suspect Prescott is losing a lot of business from campers shopping who are not returning or cut their trip short because of the bums with their vouchers.


Posted: Sunday, December 09, 2012
Article comment by: S L

Prescott's slogan is now "come for the rehab. stay for the relapse"..

Posted: Sunday, December 09, 2012
Article comment by: got problems ?

To the "attack" writing business person writing in as @ listen to mom . You do not speak for all business owners in Prescott . Your arguments are vaporous and lack any substance or basis of fact . The rehab houses here are a business that perform a service . Just like any business (yours included ) when you offer a good product and good service your business will stand a much better chance of being successful , dont take my word for it , maybe talk to some of your peers who are successful. Many areas are being identified as to what can make these homes better , and can use improvement . Better for the community , better for the poor souls who find themselves in need of such a service . Running them out of town is not a solution . Setting some guidelines for the operation of them is "good business" .

Your rants and attacks telling people what they should do are insulting ... research this or that , call the IRS ( these homes probably file more often than you do ) , stop proving yourself ignorant, its obvious you have no idea what the homes do and the scope of the service's they provide or the depth of the need for them .
You havent provided one shred of fact or data , instead your tyrannical demand the public go out and do it for you . Are you angry that you heard about the pro ball player(s) or actor who successfully completed treatment and are back on top in their profession but didnt give you an autographed piece of memorabilia.. like they did some other business owner ? What , you mad they didnt come into your business while they were here ? ...



Posted: Sunday, December 09, 2012
Article comment by: For a mayor and council that holds future tourism dear.

How can they continue to ignore this BLOT on their dear Prescott town? Our new moniker as half-way house rehab capital of the southwest can't be much help, can it?


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