A recent investigation from Eyewitness 7 News in Chicago reveals a story that’s unfolded in many cities: people looking to find legitimate sober housing left without the resources they need. There aren’t enough beds to people trying to get help with addiction from harder drugs like opioids, and many of the homes are scams that don’t provide a safe, clean atmosphere.

“Not In My Backyard” Approach

Like many neighborhoods across the US, there is a resistance to allowing sober homes into communities where families live. People often complain and litigate sober living facilities out of their neighborhoods.

Michael Owens, executive director of Trinity Sober Living, has lived out this experience in the Chicago suburb of Hillsdale. He was preparing to open a sober living space “to help up to 10 men in recovery transition into a life free of alcohol and drugs,” he told the Eyewitness News. Unlike many facilities, he’s in the process of obtaining a recovery home license, which is voluntary but is recommended.

Shortly after Owens purchased the home under its business name, the Village of Hinsdale sued Owens in DuPage County Court. The village says the house violates regulations on the amount of non-related people living in one house.

Sober Housing in Illinois: What’s Legitimate?

Few states have laws concerning what is considered sober housing versus drug treatment. Sober living situations don’t typically require a license. Treatment centers, however, do.  A housing director may want to get a license if they also conduct outpatient therapy or other types of substance abuse treatment on-site. While permits are voluntary, it’s a step towards accountability that may not have been there before.

The state of Illinois, like other states, has recently seen its share of unscrupulous sober home operators. Because of this, the state passed a new law earlier this year that requires the government to set up and maintain a recovery residence registry.

Advocates say that there needs to be more oversight of sober homes after the overdose death of a young woman who was kicked out of her sober living arrangement in the middle of the night. She overdosed in a motel shortly afterward.