The New York Times questioned whether the little-regulated but government-funded sober living homes are run properly. The investigation delved into the world of recovery homes in New York City and found all too often that recovering addicts were encouraged to relapse so they could qualify for more government aid. The newspaper reported:
Mr. Bush signed up for a drug-treatment program and emerged nine months later determined to stay sober. But the man who ran the house, Yury Baumblit, a longtime hustler and two-time felon, had other ideas.
Mr. Baumblit got kickbacks on the Medicaid fees paid to the outpatient treatment programs that he forced all his tenants to attend, residents and former employees said. So he gave Mr. Bush a choice: If he wanted to stay, he would have to relapse and enroll in another program. Otherwise, his bed would be given away.
“‘Do what you do’ — that’s what he told me,” Mr. Bush recalled.
Mr. Bush, rail-thin with sad eyes, wanted to avoid the streets and homeless shelters at all costs. He turned to his self-medication of choice: beer, with a chaser of heroin and crack cocaine. Then he enrolled in a new program chosen by Mr. Baumblit.
In the past two and a half years, Mr. Bush has gone through four programs, just to hold onto his upper bunk bed.
Mr. Bush had fallen into a housing netherworld in New York City, joining thousands of other single men and women recovering from addiction or with nowhere to go. The homes are known as “three-quarter” houses, because they are seen as somewhere between regulated halfway houses and actual homes.
Virtually unnoticed and effectively unregulated, the homes have multiplied over the past decade, driven by a push to reduce shelter rolls, a lack of affordable housing and unscrupulous operators.....
Opportunistic businessmen like Mr. Baumblit have rushed to open new homes, turning them into vehicles for fleecing the government, an investigation by The New York Times found. The target is easy: vulnerable residents whose rents and treatments are paid for with taxpayer money....
But for years none have paid attention to what happens inside. There are no regular inspections. No requirements. No registry. The city’s Department of Buildings, overwhelmed and ineffectual, often fines the landlords, but the city does little to collect.... Rest of article.