The City of Phoenix is working with a neighborhood group to develop a licensing process for sober living homes. Unlike other types of group homes, someone doesn’t need a license to run a sober living home.

A well-run home may have little to no impact on neighbors, but a poorly run home may lead to clients relapsing and causing problems.

Sober living homes are often tucked within residential neighborhoods and look like any other home or rental.

A member of Take Action Phoenix (TAP) says there’s a significant cluster of group homes near Northern and 23rd Avenue and she didn’t know they were there until she began knocking on doors. She says some of them are sober living homes.

“There are a lot of good operators that are managing these homes, but there are a lot of bad operators, too,” says Linda Colino with TAP.

“Oftentimes people just live with it and they should know something is being done about it.”

“There are no standards on how they operate and provide care to the people that are in there with their disability,” says Alan Stephenson, director of planning and development with the City of Phoenix.

Stephenson says because the state will not regulate sober living homes, the city has to address the issue through zoning.

Stephenson says a proposed ordinance would require operators to get a license and allow their facility to be inspected. Rules would also address limits on how many people can live in a sober living home and how far apart they should be to avoid clustering.

Stephenson says officials intend to present a list of recommendations to the city council on December 13th where the council may vote to move forward with drafting an ordinance. The council may be voting on a fully-crafted ordinance by March.

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