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March 28, 2008



Seems to me that if they are claiming exemption under the Federal Fair Housing Act by qualifying their residents as "handicapped", the city, state and federal government should have an interest in seeing these characters meet every last provision of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).


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 shit about the local area or the addicts.


All the residents should call the police or videotape any suspicious activity. Make it difficult for the owner of the property who is hiding behind the federal law that is made for legitimately disabled people. Continuing to drink and take drugs is not a handicap.

Ed Wood

I have nothing against a genuine attempt to get clean and sober. However, I would ask how many of you would like a "sober house" on your street in Somerville where you owned property? Not many I bert.

In fact this is why I have nothing against people making a good profit off their property. Their are risks involved with owning. If you rent on that street that is being ruined by the sober house you can give your notice and move out in 30 days. If you own your property value starts to go lower and you get screwed. As usual their are all sorts of "rights" for screw ups and no protection for the clean living sober house owner who tries to do the right thing.


I live in an area where there is some type of recovery house and was not told about it prior to buying. I found out through neighbors. Also, this house has had a shooting outside of it in a car where someone died. If I knew about it, I would have bought elsewhere.

Jim Bonner

All the comments entered here in response to this article add up to nothing more than "Not in my back yard" You whinny nimbys make me sick. Please do some research on the subject at hand before blathering on with your self-involved, fear-based rant. It is just mind-boggling how small-minded you sound.


To Jim Bonner:

I have every right to make comments like the one I previously posted. I live on a street off of Walnut Street. Last summer, there were 2 shootings within 1 block of my house-one shooting was execution style and the person died. I know that right across the street from this shooting is a "sober house" of some sort. I did not know what this house was prior to by purchasing my house. If I would have know prior to purchasing, I would not have bought here.

Bob Langill

Mr. Bonner, Not In My Back Yard? I live on Wilton Street and the property at 31 Wilton is nothing more than an illegal rooming/boarding house. 250 dollars for a one time registration fee, 135 dollar a week for board and what do they get, a roof and a bed. Go online and search Wilton Street Somerville MA. Try Yahoo first and then tell me if a family who is looking to make Somerville their home would buy my house.



If a "sober" house is leaving needles on the street, and drug deals are taking palce I would call that a crack house not a sober house. The owners are just using this loophole to cash in. How can a sober house have no medical or counselling services???? These people need to go into rehab not a flop house. Owners have every right to be upset.

If the city solicitor does nothing the locals should document problems, report everything to the police and get together and sue the owners. "Reasonable accomodations" for disabled does not allow them to run a crack house.

Ron Newman

I also have to wonder if the city solicitor is the best person to be dealing with this particular problem, given his own recent difficulties.


Sober houses are simply a way for unscupulous and greedy landlords who want to make alot of money, to exploit a legal loophole in a way that is difficult for Cities to regulate.


Ed Wood - "no protection for the clean living sober house owner who tries to do the right thing."

You're kidding, right?!

Clarabell the Clown

couldnt have said it better myself. The City solicitor is one hearing away from being a tenant.


The comment about the solicitor being inadequate to deal with this problem is right on the mark. His view of this issue is likely clouded by his own mutliple DUI convictions and personal problems.


It is really too bad that this house is ruining everyone's idea of a sober house, given that there aren't enough around. The sober house should be regulated and spot checks should be done. If they don't want to stay sober, they shouldn't ruin it for the serious people that do.

it *is* funny

I disagree with Ron's post (and the subsequent followups) about Gannon's potential conflict of interest about this issue. If the Mayor thinks he can continue in the job, it's up to him. I don't know how he performs in his professional capacity and neither do you. Snarky comments about the DUIs, etc., aren't helpful here.

CityHall closes Fridays at 12

"Snarky comments" ?? I believe the recent Herald story mentioned how he was arrested/accused of DUI * three * times....Tell us how this role model is representing himself as well as the City ?

it *is* funny

Believe me, I've been following this issue, and I am not pleased about having such an important role filled by someone with some obvious problems regarding DUI. However, we don't know how he performs his job responsibilities and linking his personal struggles with the sober house debate is a red herring, in my opinion.


this is an issue all over the some homework before you started mouthing off about who is capable of doing a job..

Joe Lynch

The Board of Aldermen Committee on Public Health and Safety has scheduled its next committee meeting for Thursday, April 3, 7:00PM at the VNA on Lowell Street.

Included in the agenda items to be discussed is an update from the city solicitor and inspectional services concerning the 31 Wilton Street property.


A sober house being operated as a lodging house or boarding house is subject to the automatic sprinkler requirement. See Massachusetts Sober Housing Corporation v. Automatic Sprinkler Appeals Board, 66 Mass.App.Ct. 701, 705 (2006) (group home for recovering substance abusers met the definition of “lodging” or “boarding” house under section 26H).

Does this sober house have a sprinkler system? If not it can be closed down!



if you read the article, lynch states that the problem is the actions of the residents, not the presence of the sober house in his neighborhood.

lifelong res

I hope the residents of this neighborhood attend tonight's meeting. We must all come together and show the City we will not go away quietly. The City should not back down -- Medford & Chelsea didn't and won!
Hope to see you all @ the VNA tonight at 7:00.

scared mother

I am living underneath a so called sober house also. I have a 2 year old. Last night I had to call the police 3 times. they were throwing beer cans and bottles at my neighbors down the hill. They are definetly making drug deals and using. The women I would say runs a whore house to top it off. The prooblem is that we have helpedthese people on numerous occasions and when we aks them to keep it down they tell us to F off. so we did and called the police. My house is not up ot regulations I would say. The grass is growing like weeds, there is mold in the house, mice, ants, the carpets were black when we moved in and still they havent recarpeted, the house is not deleaded, the ceiling is falling through with water damage, holes in the ceiling and walls, there property is still in our home and they have no intentin to help us. please help us anybody.

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