Phoenix Subcommittee Passes Text Amendment to Regulate Group Homes

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Phoenix Subcommittee Passes Text Amendment to Regulate Group Homes

The Phoenix Downtown, Aviation, Economy, and Innovation Subcommittee unanimously passed on Wednesday a Group Home Facilities Text Amendment which will update regulations and set long term goals for group homes

The tax amendment will set an allowed number of residents in a group home, increase zoning ordinances to at least one quarter mile, modernize definitions to conform to state and industry standards, and establish a working group to achieve and regulate these items.

Many owners of group homes and community members spoke to the subcommittee in favor of the text amendment while voicing their concerns about some of the language used.

Wally Graham, a member of Take Action Phoenix, expressed concern over the consistency of homes throughout the city. He mentioned how the zoning ordinance was worded in such a way that homes may be able to find a way around it and locate themselves next to one another.  In response to Graham, subcommittee member Vice Mayor Pastor said that this is something that will definitely need to be looked at and fixed.

Jeff Spellman, another member of TAP concerned over the spacing of group homes said, “It is first and foremost about the people who are trying to recover from their illness.

Some community members suggested that existing group homes be grandfathered into

the text amendment. One man who spoke to the committee in favor of the grandfather clause was JP Greco who told his story of heroin abuse and how he was able to graduate from college and start a business after receiving help from a group home.

In contrast, there were some who did not support the tax amendment. Thomas Brown, a founding member of Arizona Recovery Housing Association said, “It’s naïve to say you can take a recovery home with 10 beds and then take away five of them and expect them to stay in business.” He later said, “You’re going to shut down these homes with these regulations.”

Subcommittee member Councilman Valenzuela responded to community members by

saying that this is about weeding out the bad homes and keeping the good ones. “If you’re in the business, and you’re doing your job good and doing it right, you have nothing to worry about,” he said.  

Going along with Councilman Valenzuela, Councilman Nowakowski suggested that a firefighter or police officer should be present on the working group. He also said that it’s important to have an individual who has successfully gone through group home recovery to be on the working group and asked if any of the owners of the sober-living homes in the audience would like to join.

The next step in this process is for city staff to meet over the summer to update the regulations for these homes.

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