Julie Coverdale was steered to a sober house by her counselor after a month at a 12-step treatment program. The house was billed as "Phase II" of her recovery, but there was no therapeutic component to it, other than the requirement that she attend two outside AA meetings a week. She was turned out of the house without legal process when she was found smoking cigarettes in her room. She had to fight to get her deposit and her personal belongings back. She said most clients who get evicted just walk away. Source.
Sober house operators in Minnesota get around the state's tenant protection laws by classifying the facility as "disabled housing." Clients are made to sign waivers of tenant rights and are called "guests" or "program participants" paying "program fees" instead of rent. Many find that they can be evicted on 15 minutes' notice. Some operators profit from frequent evictions of their vulnerable clients, too insecure to demand return of their deposits or belongings. Says the paper:
Despite abuses, sober houses are proliferating in Minnesota due to cutbacks in public funding for treatment and tougher insurance regulations. They can be highly profitable for the owners. Says the paper:
HEART, a Minneapolis nonprofit, spent about half of its $275,000 grant budget last year to cover the first month's rent for financially needy clients who moved into sober houses. More than a year ago, however, the agency stopped paying security deposits because so many landlords failed to return the money.
"It's hard to tell who is starting in it for an honest reason and who is starting it as a quick way to make a buck," said Anne Germain Beauclaire, HEART's executive director.
Sober houses exist in a legal netherworld: Landlords say they are exempt from local tenant laws because their clients are disabled. Yet the owners don't have to provide tenants with counseling or other services because the homes are not licensed treatment centers. The program is whatever the landlord says it is, and tenants who violate the rules are often immediately thrown out.Read the full story.