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Town Hall Meeting on Recovery Homes in Frankford

Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez hosted a town hall style meeting on the topic of recovery houses in Frankford at Sankofa Freedom Academy last Tuesday night.  This was the followup to the meeting held in February of 2009 at St. Joachim.

There was a very good crowd on hand with representatives from both Frankford and Northwood Civic Associations, the Frankford CDC and a large number of residents of Frankford.

Councilwoman Sanchez lead the meeting.  Jorge Santana attended for Representative Tony Payton.  Roland Lamb, the director of Addiction Services, was there.  Doctor Arthur Evans represented the Department of Behavioral Health.  Thomas McDade represented L&I.  Fred Way was there for PMHCC.

All of the experts on the panel made their pitch explaining their function in addressing the problem.  There is no comprehensive legislative approach to solving this problem because, as was pointed out, this problem is really multiple problems manifesting as one.

You have drug treatment providers, good recovery homes,  bad recovery homes, boarding houses and some people that are just plain nuisances.  We have people of good will, ill will and no will.

So where does that leave us?  We as a community have to keep up the pressure.  It doesn’t matter too much to us what the source of the problem is.  The solutions are where we are headed.

  • There are some things that can be done legislatively to limit providers and regulate recovery so that certain standards are maintained.  We have to stand together as a community and demand that those changes be made.
  • We have to stand together with the best of the recovery homes and demand that any others either be brought into compliance or shut down period.
  • We have to demand strict regulation of the drug treatment providers and demand that no others be allowed to set up shop in Frankford.
  • We want to demand that the the Zoning Code Commission add recovery houses and rehabilitation centers to the Zoning Code’s list of Regulated Uses (§
    14-1605); or, at the very least, to the prohibited uses list found in the Frankford Special Services District
    Controls Overlay (§ 14-1623).

Now here is the hard part.  We cannot change the economic forces that made Frankford ripe for exploitation but we can decide to work together to fight them.  Time is on our side.  In ten years, give or take a few, our problem will be how to preserve the neighborhood from becoming another Northern Liberties.  Right now are are waging a holding action until the tide changes in that direction.

Now a word of praise for a guy who does his best to just tell a story.  Toward the end of the meeting questions were taken from the audience.  That is always interesting in Frankford but in this case there were a lot of good questions from very sincere people.  At the end, john Loftus of the Northeast Times stood and said something that kind of hit the mark.  Paraphrasing it, he said there is nobody in this audience who doubts the need for recovery services.  That is not the issue.  The question is why are they all here.  Why should they all be here. Why are they all here, far in excess in proportion to the population.  That is what the community wants to know and there has not yet been a satisfactory answer to that question.

The process is ongoing.  Thanks to Councilwoman Sanchez for having this meeting and pledging to meet with the Frankford Recovery Coalition.  The more parties at the table, the more likely we are to make some progress.  A followup meeting may be scheduled for as early as September.

Read the full story from Northeast Times here.

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Merry Christmas

Seems appropriate to report on the Christmas Toy Drive organized by Jeanna Goodwin, Frankford Recovery Coalition & Mike Mawson, Frankford Town Watch.  We posted an invitation to donate toys back on December 6th.  Last night it was time to wrap it up and make deliveries to some families in need, so I went over to New Desires on Leiper Street to get some pictures.

Jeanna said she would over there with, as she affectionately call them “her guys” organizing, wrapping and then delivering the packages so they would be ready for the kids on Christmas morning.  So I got there about seven, walking a few blocks over ice and snow with my camera in its heated, insulated box. 

I got there just as they were getting organized in the front room with those 12 foot high ceilings.  Some additional donations were brought in at the last minute by Brian Ropars who had been out making the rounds trying to make up for what did not turn up in the donation box at Tony Payton’s office. Times are tough all around this year.

Jeanna’s guys started sorting out every item into age groups for the kids.  That took quite a while and then the wrapping began and things got serious.  There was enough to give the kids in at least three families with a very nice Christmas.

I believe this is the fourth year for this noble effort.  I mentioned to one of the guys that they are heros.  He said there are no heroes here.  That’s what you would expect a hero to say isn’t it.

Click on any of the above pictures for a larger view.