Flager & Associates: Working to Make Our Communities Safer
Flager & Associates and Bristol Township Collaborate on Trailblazing Regulation of Recovery Homes
You don’t have to go far to hear about the Opioid epidemic in this country. It has become a daily part of our lives to hear stories, whether in the national or local news, about this growing problem. Unfortunately, many of us have friends or family members whose lives have been affected by this devastating problem.
Here in Pennsylvania, this situation is labeled as the state’s worst public health crisis. Pennsylvania now shares data with 17 other states as well as D.C. in the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program so that prescribers will safely prescribe controlled substances. Many other steps have been taken to help addicts get the help they need and break the cycle. But more is needed.
Flager & Associates, PC, a prominent Bucks County injury law firm, has recently been involved in trailblazing legal work to help fight the battle against opioids. The firm was directly involved in the work done by Bristol Township to bring sensible regulation to the recovery homes located within the township.
Flager & Associates drafted an Ordinance that governs recovery homes for Bristol Township. Bucks County in general and Bristol Township specifically, is home to hundreds of these homes, many of which are in Bristol Township.
However, there is no state or federal regulation governing recovery homes.
Many of these homes house people who are in recovery after formal treatment ends and they begin the process of reintegrating into society.
There are many good recovery home operators that have a system in place to keep residents accountable, requiring regular drug testing, searching for employment and going to meetings, among other requirements. The recovery home operators should be commended.
However, there are too many recovery home operators that just want to profit off of this vulnerable population group. They let those in recovery stay in their homes as long as they can pay rent even if they are using drugs, run overcrowded/unsafe houses, have numerous code/safety violations, unsanitary conditions, no drug tests or no accountability for those who fail a drug test (they’re permitted to stay). Many overdoses have taken place in these “rogue” recovery homes.
Bristol Township tried to put an end to this practice. The township engaged an outside firm to do extensive research on the delicate legal issues involved here. In short, a municipality cannot simply pass an Ordinance to regulate recovery homes as it may violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Fair Housing Act (FHA), as well as other State and Federal laws. This is true even if a municipality is attempting to protect this vulnerable population in need of help.
Bristol Township drafted an Ordinance that sought to balance those competing interests and that was different from similar Ordinances in surrounding towns that did not take these issues into account and were struck down by the Courts. Further, at the public hearing for Bristol’s Ordinance, operators of upstanding recovery homes and professionals testified as to why the Ordinance was just and best equipped to protect those committed to recovery. The Ordinance requires membership in a state or county recovery home association. This further ensures the homes will be clean, safe and help support people in their newfound sobriety.
The Ordinance was the result of a major collaborative effort between Flager & Associates, Bristol Township, recovery home operators, and related professionals. Everyone will benefit from this trailblazing work!