Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 03/2004

« Newstalk for Wednesday February 27th 2008 | Main | The View From Prospect Hill »

February 28, 2008



As usual there is more to these stories than meets the eye. There was a similar problem with a so-called sober house in Medford that had many of the neighbors up in arms. That saga ended when the property went into foreclosure.

What happens with these sober houses is that someone buys a property and begins renting out beds to recovering drug addicts. This helps the owner exploit a loophole in federal laws to run a rooming house.

Most communities limit the number of unrelated people who may lawfully share a home - but sober houses, where sober alcoholics and recovering drug addicts live together without supervision - don't fall in that category because recovering addicts are deemed disabled by the federal government. When disabled people request reasonable accommodations, these must be provided. Denying them is discrimination, according to federal fair-housing laws.

Basically most of the owners just want a good way to have someone pay off their mortgage. They don't give a shiot about the local area or the addicts.

Another Aside....

I believe JPM is correct. Their is, however, a difference between a halfway house and a sober house. My understanding is that a halfway house is somehow regulated and requires strict supervision. As JPM said, people can open 'sober houses' with little or no knowledge/information about how to do it, and they are NOT regulated. So there are some very good sober houses, and some very bad sober houses. But if he's right about the law, the city may be stuck between a rock and a hard place.


Something tells me Joe Lynch is not done with politics in this city.

Bob Langill

"Anyone using drugs in the house is expelled" Is the attorney for "Sober Surroundings" admitting that drug use is going on at the Wilton Street facility. He states that there was only one drug overdose, yet on more than one occasion there has been an emergency response to that house. I live on Wilton Street Mr Macdonald and spoke at that community meeting so my comments should not be taken lightly nor with a "grain of salt". I wish the Somerville news had asked Bruce Macdonald and William Mahoney (Mahoney is listed as the President, Treasurer and Clerk for Sober Surroundings) how they deal with "Sober Houses" in their neighborhood. Everyone has a right to get "clean and sober" Mr. Macdonald with the proper supervision. No one has the right to do it in a group setting on their own, you are just asking for trouble. I am sick and tired of hearing that "it's discrimination" because I care about the safety of my neighbors, their children, my family and myself. I want the same things you want Mr. Macdonald to live in a safe and quiet neighborhood.
Bob Langill
Wilton Street


I don't know about this specific Sober House, however my boyfriend is a recovering alcoholic. I have been with him for a year now. He was originally in a half way house, where they monitor the residents' every move. He had to check in every five hours and he wasn't able to work late or overtime. He had to attend meetings and take urine tests for them to make sure he wasn't using. Then, he got a decent job and decided to move to a Sober House. There things are very different. First off, he didn't have to check in so much. He pays his rent and they leave him alone (basically).

Anyway, I agree with residents of this street that it's unfair to claim that an addicts inability to make an appropriate choice(not to use) is being twisted into being claimed as a disability. PERSONALLY I believe they make the choice to use, they KNOW they can't be responsible while (drinking or otherwise**** NOT CONDONING DRUG USE OF ANY KIND MIND YOU******) so they should be held responsible for their actions. This potentially opens up BIG debates over a child rapist's "addiction" to children as a "disability" in which case tax payers ONCE AGAIN bear the burden of housing and feeding them (not like it's a break from releasing them from jail WHERE THEY SHOULD STAY!) sorry, about that tangent) but I don't think it should be considered a disability. IT IS A CHOICE! The same as murder, rape, assault, etc. I believe if they are "recovered" enough to live in a sober house or a halfway house they are well enough to stay clean, make responsible decisions and better themselves (if government assistance is provided) I can't stand for them to use this as a "crutch". It is unfair to sober houses and half way houses who really do do a great job at keeping these individuals clean and actually helping them help themselves.

To be honest, a LOT of sober houses and half way houses are just in it for the MONEY! They don't care about their residents. They are too lax with rules and violations of their OWN policies. I know, my boyfriend relapsed TWICE since we have been together. The sober house KNEW he had used, and let it "slide" then when his company closed and he was laid off from work (and COULD have collected unemployment) they gave him notice that he would have to leave, if he wouldn't be able to pay his rent.(the same guy who ALWAYS paid his rent ONE DAY EARLY IN FULL!!!! Who they had let down by letting him slide when he had relapsed) When he was REALLY clean and TRYING they caused him to relapse AGAIN FOR REAL! Where he tried to commit suicide because he felt like he wasn't getting anywhere, where he felt used, and belittled. He didn't have to use. He knows that. I know that. He made his OWN choice to, relapse again.
However in his defense, a sober house is suppose to allow clean and sober individuals to live together in a safe drug/alcohol free environment (which obviously isn't the case if they let him slide) but kick him out because he got laid off from work. Addicts tend to have an inability to cope with their emotions.KNOWN FACT, so why do that to someone you know is going to use, to make the feel go away?

He is now at a different halfway house. The other day a resident used. They told him he was suspended HOWEVER they also offered to send him back to a detox, for him to start his program over, unfortunately the young man overdosed that night and died. This is one of the situations that ONLY THE USER COULD HAVE STOPPED! or protective custody. Sober houses are different. The choices about the house are made by the director and such. I can see how there may be calls to a sober house for over doses. However, that is part of the nature of the beast. If an individual is ready to get clean then they wouldn't have situations like that, however those who are not willing to be clean will continue to overdose, giving the bad reputation to the neighbors as a drug house. Again, it is the responsibility of a good director when making choices for accepting residence to pick only those who look most promising. However, a lot of addicts can talk a good talk and lead a director to think he is a good candidate and result the same way. I feel for the neighbors of his sober house. A well run sober house would not have this many problems. Seems they need a change of management or director.

Not all sober houses and halfway houses are like Wilton Street, and I strongly believe that the residence of the streets opinions matter GREATLY! I hope a resolution can be found that satisfies all. Best of luck to everybody.


what a shame that there is such a lack of decent supervised housing for people wanting a chance to turn their lives come florida can manage to run tight houses and most of the country is failing at this? Is anyone out there listening to the need for halfway housing,,it shouldn't be such a difficult thing to find especially in an area surrounded by prestigious universities......wake up america..please wake up and realize that you may find the need for safe ,supportive housing for a family member at some time since the drug abuse problem in the usa is out of control and in every back yard,white or black, rich or poor

sober living for women

It a good subject to we all know that the home is operated as Sober Surroundings and advertises itself as a place where recovering addicts can get help,keep posting!

by: cletsey


Through my investigation into this matter I have found that; this dispute has been settled and has been granted permission by the city of Somerville to operate. I also was brought away of a few unknown factors one of being Sober Surrounding purchased this home from active drug abusers which were indeed not a benefit to the neighborhood. Also I was informed during renovations at the time of purchase contractors removed an abundance of drug paraphernalia hidden in walls, cabinets and even ceilings. I think sober surroundings should be commended for its efforts to help our community and turn a former crack house into a home for people seeking help. I also would like to add ever sober home will have incidents, that is the nature of the businesses, addicts are not easy people to deal with whether you are trying to help them or not. Sober Surroundings has one of the top ratings in the state aswell.

Turkish Property

It really makes me happy to hear these great stories because seeing is believing. I enjoyed reading this post thanks.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Most Recent Photos

  • Danehy_Park_Family_Day
  • Bloco
  • 3517a
  • Web_toon_7_21_10
  • Prospect hill
  • Web_toon_7_14_10
  • 3224a
  • Art1(2)
  • Art5
  • Art10(2)
  • Union_square_flood
  • Flood_pic_(bridge_1)