- Posted January 31, 2013 by
Los Angeles In Combat -- We Are At It Again
Los Angeles has this one wrong. We are at it again. The City is developing a new way to discriminate against twenty three million Americans in our country - black and white, Hispanic and Asian, Protestant and Catholic, spiritual and agnostic, Muslim and Hindu, gay and straight, young and old, men and women -- all suffering from addiction. The proposed Los Angeles Community Care Facilities Ordinance is not designed to help those in our community recovering from alcohol and drug addiction; it is actually aimed at preventing them from living and recovering together in group homes. This, at a time when addiction has arisen to the level of a national health crisis.
Los Angeles has spent several years and untold taxpayer dollars trying to craft this ordinance, and is poised to enact it, despite that the ordinance violates discrimination law and flies in the face of recovery efforts. Established law prohibits this type of housing discrimination. Those recovering from addiction are protected against discrimination under various state and federal disability laws. Further, the City is ignoring endorsement of group recovery homes in a recent US Senate Report and strong evidence that these residences enhance recovery and reduce recovery costs. According to the National Institute on Drug Addiction and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, the addiction epidemic can be conquered if policy makers direct some of our substance abuse budget toward recovery from this disease. As a result, the City is confronting opposition by an unprecedented national coalition of over one hundred and fifty nonprofit, business and civil rights groups, including the United Way. In January 2013, the ordinance was voted back to committee for further consideration by the City Council because, as Council Member Richard Alarcon stated, it hampers the ability of nonprofits and group homes to care for the elderly, the disabled and the homeless. What more must the City consider? How many attempts at discrimination and bad policy does our City of Angels need?
Proponents of the ordinance claim it is needed to prevent crime and overcrowded homes. The City, however, has ample laws and ordinances in place to handle those concerns. Moreover, these homes have not been any more of a problem than other homes where crimes sometimes take place. In fact, group recovery homes are safer than other homes. Twenty three million of our community members suffering from addiction already live in our neighborhoods. Why prevent them from living together in homes which support their recovery?
The reality is that the driving force behind this ordinance is that some community groups do not want recovering addicts living in their neighborhoods. This is a "NIMBY" law -- a "Not In My Backyard" law. NIMBY laws have been around for decades. They began as attempts to segregate white neighborhoods. The reasoning was "I like Blacks and Hispanics -- but not in my backyard. . ." This ordinance is no different. It is simply discrimination by another guise and it is wrong.
Los Angeles?. Are you listening? We have a health crisis to combat. Shutting down homes where those suffering from this disease recover together is a violation of discrimination law and a step in the wrong direction. You are moving backward. Let's put pen to paper and draft some ordinances that enhance recovery efforts rather than ones which sabotage them.
Lisa M. Jacobsen, Harvest House