Investigation indicates widespread abuses by private operators who are benefiting from millions in public funding.
Vancouver (5 March 2009) - Many privately-run recovery homes in B.C. are overcrowded, unsupervised, dirty and unsafe, according to a report by CBC News.
Many homes are funded directly or indirectly by public money but they are not subject to regulations.
Recovery homes were regulated by the former New Democratic Party government between 1998 and 2002 but the requirements were rescinded when the government of Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell won power in 2002.
The homes are also exempt from the provincial Residential Tenancy Act, which sets rules for when and how tenants can be evicted. There are an estimated 100 recovery homes in Surrey and dozens more throughout the Lower Mainland and Fraser River Valley.
"Several former and current residents told CBC News there is a wide range of homes, from excellent to downright dangerous," the network reports. "They said the trouble is they are unregulated in B.C., so there's no way to tell the good from the bad."
Health Minister George Abbott says he has heard complaints and plans to bring in licensing and new regulations in the coming months.
"There is a lot of work being undertaken currently through the Community Care and Assisted Living Act to try to identify an appropriate process for recovery houses," says Abbott.
One woman said she was given $500 a month to cook for 22 people in one recovery house and was kicked out when she complained about a lack of food.
The network was told by several current and former residents that many of the homes are run like private businesses and more are opening every month.
Typically, operators collect room and board money from the addicts by arranging to have their monthly welfare cheques paid directly to the recovery organization.
"They live off these people. They literally live off their fear, their anguish, their anger and their brokenness," the former resident said.
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