DOJ, HUD Close Investigation On Prescott Sober Living Home Regulations

By Casey Kuhn
Published: Tuesday, February 21, 2017 - 5:05am

Prescott’s boom in sober living homes for recovering addicts has prompted regulations, including limits on how close the group homes can be to each other. Federal investigations on whether those ordinances are constitutional have been closed.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department of Justice opened two investigations on whether buffer requirements violated the Fair Housing Act. The HUD secretary investigated Prescott’s 1,200-foot buffer between group homes. After the investigation, the city lowered that requirement to 800 feet.

The 800-foot buffer was challenged by a Prescott group-home operator. Prescott Deputy City Attorney Matthew Podracky says the ordinances were written after a study by a group-home expert.

“Based on his recommendations, it looked like an 800-foot-buffer zone was in fact something that could be upheld by the DOJ as not violating the Fair Housing Act and help eliminating the congregation of group homes in one area.”

Podracky says the goal is to break up clusters of group homes in one area, not to target and shut down certain homes.

"There was in fact a significant clustering problem of group homes in one area, thus creating the possibility of some sort of institutionalized location for these group homes,” he said.

The DOJ and HUD closed the second investigation on the 800-foot group home buffer finding no violations.