August 23, 2017 – Living in a recovery house can be an important part of the recovery process, but some residents aren’t welcoming when one operates in their neighborhood.
In June, our very own Valerie Schina explained why recovery houses are sometimes necessary for those in the early stages of recovery and what to look for when choosing the right one for you.
According to Billy Penn, neighbors in the Morrell Park section of Philadelphia showcased why the social stigma associated with addiction and recovery houses must be overcome. Offensive comments and death threats were issued by nearby residents upon learning that Way of Life Recovery opened.
Barb Williamson, who operates the center, explained why the pushback from residents is disheartening:
“Everyone is addressing that there is an opioid epidemic,” Williamson said. “They all say it from their computer screens or their phones, ‘It’s a shame, this is so sad, we need to do something.’ But then they try to stop the people that are trying to do something. That is the insane part. That blows my mind.”
Williamson first opened her network of recovery houses in Bucks County in 2013, about a year after she entered her own recovery. All of her houses are certified by the Pennsylvania Alliance of Recovery Residences, meaning they’re held to specific standards to encourage residents’ successful recovery from addiction — and to protect the surrounding community.
The Morrell Park residence — which will have to be re-inspected for PARR certification if it stays open — was her first time expanding to Philly.
“They made it seem like an abandoned home with bunk beds everywhere, like I’m some slum lord,” Williamson said. “They just painted this disgusting picture, and I have to live with that. They said my name. They dragged my company in a negative way.”
“It’s just a shame,” she added. “They didn’t even ask me. No one said, ‘Hey, we don’t really like what’s going on, can we look into it?’ It wasn’t that. It was, ‘You are horrible and this needs to be shut down.’”
Read the full story on Billy Penn.