Sober home certification: Nonprofit could again lose money to do it

Certifying sober homes was one of the top proposals for cleaning up the state’s fraud-ridden drug treatment industry, thePalm Beach County State Attorney’s Task Force concluded last year.

But for a second year in a row, the organization that does the certifying statewide could see its financing gutted by lawmakers.

In February, the Florida Association for Recovery Residences asked the Legislature for $275,000 to train five people to certify sober homes and obtain new software. Sen. Kevin Rader, a Democrat from Delray Beach, filed the request.

Now $175,000 of the proposed money has been diverted to continue State Attorney Dave Aronberg’s Sober Homes Task Force. The measure hasn’t yet passed.

For FARR, it feels like a repeat of last year’s legislative session, when it asked for money only to get nothing and see $275,000 go to Aronberg. An additional $125,000 is also slated to go his task force this year.

“I am definitely in support of Aronberg continuing on,” said FARR’s executive director, John Lehman. “If he needs $300,000 he should get $300,000, but it shouldn’t come out of FARR. Why would it come out of FARR?”

In December, both the task force and a grand jury recommended a series of reforms that included requiring any “commercial” sober home — where patients live while they are still getting treatment — be required to be certified.

A bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Bill Hager of Boca Raton doesn’t go that far. Sober homes wouldn’t have to be certified, but it would be illegal for a treatment center to refer patients to a sober home that isn’t certified.

Aronberg’s chief assistant, Al Johnson, said it shouldn’t be a choice between financing the task force and FARR.

“Yes, FARR needs to be adequately funded and yes, the Sober Homes Task Force needs to extend another year, so it’s a false choice,” Johnson said. “Both should be funded.”

Lehman said what he’s asking for is a one-time request. Fees paid by sober homes seeking certification should support the Boca Raton-based nonprofit going forward.

Lehman said the money would go toward hiring and training five people to inspect sober homes across the state, getting better software and educating sober home owners.

“There are lots of recovery residences that don’t have a policy and procedure manual and wouldn’t know how to build one if their life depended on it,” Lehman said.

He said none of the money would go to his own salary — he doesn’t have one and hasn’t in his five years leading FARR.

Palm Beach Post staff writer Joe Capozzi contributed to this report.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Alison Brie weighs in on sexual misconduct allegations against brother-in-law James Franco
Alison Brie weighs in on sexual misconduct allegations against brother-in-law James Franco

E!’s red carpet coverage of the 24th annual Screen Actors Guild awards got off to an awkward start when host Giuliana Rancic asked nominee Alison Brie a surprise question about the sexual misconduct allegations against her brother-in-law, James Franco. Brie is married to Franco’s brother, Dave Franco, who appears in “The...
Delray Beach residents homeless after fire
Delray Beach residents homeless after fire

Residents of a Delray Beach duplex are without a place to live after a fire swept through one side of their building in the 200 block of Southwest Fourth Avenue Sunday afternoon. “Heavy flames” were shooting from one of the units when firefighters arrived shortly before 3 p.m., according to Capt. Kevin Saxton of Delray Beach Fire Rescue...
One person hurt in Acreage helicopter crash
One person hurt in Acreage helicopter crash

One person was injured after a small helicopter crashed in the Acreage, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue said Sunday. The crash happened near Royal Ascot Estates, Fire Rescue officials said shortly before 4 p.m. The pilot was taken to a hospital for treatment. He was flying a “small experimental helicopter that had crashed while taking off from...
Boy with 10-pound tumor on face dies after surgery in Florida
Boy with 10-pound tumor on face dies after surgery in Florida

A 14-year-old boy who recently underwent surgery to remove a 10-pound tumor from his face has died, according to news reports. Emanuel Zayas developed the benign tumor while suffering from polyostotic fibrous dysplasia, a genetic disorder in which fibrous tissue begins to replace bone in the body. “Our condolences and prayers for Emanuel's family...
Jupiter Island sees rare armed robbery
Jupiter Island sees rare armed robbery

Jupiter Island, that tony strip of mansions that counts Tiger Woods and billionaire John Malone among its homeowners, experienced a rare violent crime this weekend. The Jupiter Island Public Safety Department said two young men wearing masks and “armed with an undetermined type handgun” robbed a Jupiter Island residence early Saturday....
More Stories