Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sober Living in Burbank

Note: the post that follows originally appeared here on March 5. It continues to get many comments. Because of that, I've moved it to the top of this page so it doesn't disappear (as it will on Blogger when it gets to the bottom.) Please feel free to continue commenting here, and to also check out the other posts on sober living in Burbank. I am happy to be able to foster a community dialogue. [Today's] Burbank Leader reports that local residents are angry about a sober-living house on Clark Street. Sober-living residences usually house a half-dozen people who are recovering from alcohol and drug addiction. At a recent community meeting, neighbors complained that this home was endangering their children and lowering their property values. The article states that the police have been called to this particular home several times and made three arrests there in 2007. These state-funded residences currently cannot be regulated by municipalities, although there are on-going attempts to change that.

As an aside, I'll cop to being addicted to shows like A&E's Intervention. Yes, it's just another reality show. But it has performed a service, at least for me, in that it has educated me immensely about addiction -- and I had a death in my own family last year as a result of chronic alcoholism. I've learned that sober-living situations can be vital to those struggling to get well.

So here's the conundrum: don't we as a community and a society have a responsibility to help those trying to help themselves? Isn't giving recovering addicts an opportunity to live in a normal community a good thing? I think so. But would I feel safe living close to this particular facility? No. Any answers from anybody out there?


  1. Very good point you have, however, in this day and age..does anyone really know their neighbors?

    You could be living next door to a meth lab that could explode at any moment. Or, perhaps your neighbor across the street had a problem with pills and booze and likes to drive...I wouldn't want my child in the street playing when he backs out of his drive.

    So, personally, I'd feel a whole lot safer having a facility like this as my neighbor! These facilities are regulated by the state, county and (often) municipal authorities.Your "normal" neighbors aren't.

  2. Michael, you are so right about this.

  3. There's nothing wrong with a sober living facility. These people are not criminals; rather, they are people with courage who are battling fearsome addictions.

  4. Anonymous9:33 AM

    I am the owner of the house and I would like to say that this is a good house with good working people in the house. Most all of the people work and participate in society. They are all drug and Alcohol tested and screened for sex offences. This are good hard working people that had an Alcohol problem. The city has done everything in their power to shut this house done. The article in the paper was inaccurate. The police did preform a swat raid on the house but only came up with a fire cracker that one of the residence had from the 4th of July. 2 other arrests were made for minor traffic warrants but no drugs were ever found at the house. The city has been doing everything they can to make life difficult on these people for no other reason than they are alcoholics which to me is a violation of their civil liberties. These people are protected under the "Fair Housing Act" and "Disabilities" act. This has turned into a political platform for the city counsel and the only people that are going to suffer are the people in this house. This is wrong and should not be allowed. Nobody is breaking any laws and these people are not monsters like the paper is making them out to be. These are your sons, brothers, fathers, cousins, bosses.

  5. Anon, thank you so much for this post. I'm very happy to have your comments. I have forwarded your comments to Jeremy Oberstein of the Burbank Leader.

  6. Anonymous7:07 AM

    Thank you for your support. there is a new article printed today that is more favorable!!

  7. Anonymous7:43 AM

    The shame is on the neighbors who have not even taken the time out to meet any of the residents of this house. As is pointed out in todays article. Instead they prefer to treat them like a menance when they don't even know them. Which is a terrible shame. These people would probably step up and help in any situation quicker than anyone else. They talk about this home driving done property values. I ask "how so?" The home is peaceful, quite and kept clean. The residents go to work everyday just like these neighbors. You can drive by there at any time and you do not see trash laying around nor do you see any loitering. I believe these neighbors are the ones driving down the value and bringing undue controversy to there own neighborhood. How many of these neighbors have a family member that is or has struggled with ANY addiction. If it was your son, brother, father would you turn your back on them? These residents are not breaking any laws! They are productive members of society, tax payers just like you and me. Kudos to these men for getting there lives together!

  8. Anonymous11:46 AM

    I find it rather funny that these people the are complaining apparently do not even have an idea of just how many of these sober livings are in the general area.

  9. This all brings up a good point. I think it would be good to know about the number of S-L houses in the Valley. It would also be good to know how the process works: how do particular people come to live in a particular S-L house? Who pays? etc? Anonymous, if you're still out there, please contact me through my site at Perhaps I can get the answers from you and then post them here.

  10. Anonymous4:01 PM

    go to this website to find all you need to know about sober-living networks of one addeict helping onther.

  11. Anonymous8:58 PM

    1. We know all of the neighbors in this neighborhood. We do not live in isolation. Over 50 people on the block showed up for the last neighborhood meeting. 2. The problem is that these facilities are NOT REGULATED by any government and operate on the honor system I supposed. 3. We do know how many sober living facilities are in our area and our concern lies not in the fact that these men are recovering alcoholics, but that some of them have prison records. Would you want someone convicted of say car jacking next door to you? If these people are just gentle souls who have a problem with booze, let them come forth and identify themselves.

  12. Anonymous11:32 AM

    Dear neighbor
    rule number 4 is there is no loitering outside the house. however if you would like to meet us please feel free the knock on the door. heck if you come about 6pm dinner just be cooking.

  13. Dear Annoymous Neighbor,

    According to the Megan's Law website there are 52 registered sex offenders living in Burbank. I don't see any listed on 1500 block of Clark St.

    Also, you probably have a few neighbors who have been convicted of crimes and spent some time in jail. I heard a statistic the other day that said 1 in 100 Americans have been incarcerated. If the statistic is true and the population of Burbank is 105,000, that's over 10,000 people in Burbank with prison records, some of who I'm sure are your neighbors, and not all living in the sober living house on the 1500 block.

    It sounds to me like you are creating a problem where one doesn't exist and I would agree with the annoymous owner of the house that harrasing them may be a violation of their civil rights.

    Unless these guys are actually causing a problem in your neighborhood, why not try being a good neighbor instead?

  14. Anonymous4:57 PM

    I would like to thank Judy Graff for initially posting this article and for the people that have responded to it.
    While I have not personally lived in a Sober Living I have experience with many residents as well as managers and owners.
    The owners go to great lengths to provide a safe environment for the residents, many of which have recently completed a residential treatment program and are making a transition into a residence of their own. They have confronted their disease, completed treatment and are happy to be clean or sober (whichever the case).
    They come into this transition mostly employed or with a job promised. There is no free ride here.
    What people fail to realize, is that people living in a sober living house enviroment that are getting loaded, drinking, or becoming a neighborhood nuisance is the kiss of death for a sober living house. This makes drug testing a necessity.
    When a resident moves in they do so with the understanding that if they do use that they will be expelled immediately. There is no eviction process involved you just grab yur stuff and you are out the door.
    As the resident makes an agreement to not use the owner has a responsibility to provide a drug free place to live.
    This is reinforced by mandatory 12 step meetings, as well as manditory house meetings.
    Word travels quickly in this circle and when a house gets labeled as a place where the residents are not clean then there will be no referrals from either treatment facilities or other people in recovery.
    SAMHSA offers the statistical data on substance abuse at:
    While it takes some time to get through the mountain of data to find that there are over 20 million people in the United States have a substance abuse problem and only a small percentage of them are unemployed. That does not include alcohol which, according to the AMA, is the most abused drug in America. If neighbors that are clean/sober, employed, moving forward in their lives are a problem, then what would you call the alternative?
    I am curious where the reporter got the information that the guitars were stolen from the neighborhood. I think that a retraction is in order and hope that an attempt for fair journalism prevails in the future.
    Let’s face it, drug and alcohol abuse has infected or affected every family on every block in every neighborhood. The answer is education. There is treatment for those who are willing to try something different.
    If you do not give these people a chance to reintegrate into society in an atmosphere that is drug free, than you should brace yourself for their failure.
    It will, most likely, affect you.

  15. Anonymous12:52 PM

    I want to thank "anonymous" for the heads up on sober living houses. I have done some research and indeed, there is no regulation by federal, state or local governments on these houses. It is a very lucrative business, which I have every intention of getting in on. You get guaranteed money from the state of California, particularly if (like Clark st) they are parolees. There are so many bank owned properties now, that buying a couple of houses makes a lot of sense. I had some initial reservations about unhappy neighbors, but have gathered courage from all the positive posts here. Does anyone know of any bank owned properties in your neighborhood. Please advise as I have cash and am ready to go. Thanks

  16. Last anonymous, exactly who is a parolee at this particular house? And where did you get this information? If you plan to identify them, I think you should also identify yourself. And by the way, if you look at the sober housing website from one of the previous posts, I think you'll see that this is not very lucrative at all.

  17. Anonymous8:18 AM

    I would like to point out a statement from the story in the Burbank Leader "Economically, the home represents a financial loss for Kanoa, who collects $2,500 a month total in rent.
    “But I’m losing money on the house,” he said. “It costs me $5,000 a month in mortgage payments. This is an important thing. One of these houses saved my life 15 years ago.”
    So it is not about being lucrative. The whole premise behind the sober living is to give a person a chance at integrating back into society in a place that is safe. They have jobs and pay their own way. So as anonymous stated if they are parolees "the state pays for them" IS ABSOLUTELY UNTRUE!!! The state DOES NOT pay for sober living. Which they say is the case with Clark St. and that it is full of parolees. Apparently this person did not do ANY research!!!!!!!! Whoever it is needs to go back and get their facts straight before printing untrue statements.

  18. Anonymous8:24 AM


    SAVE your money this is not a lucrative business nor does the parole department pay the bills. the only payment you get is to know you helped a addict get up on there feet. lucrative do the math Kanoa said in his note $5000 mortage plus electric $300 to $400 gas $100 to $200 cable/phone/DSL $140 do the math you would need 12 guys paying $500 a month just to pay the bills. THINK ABOUT IT I have.

  19. Anonymous8:25 AM


    SAVE your money this is not a lucrative business nor does the parole department pay the bills. the only payment you get is to know you helped a addict get up on there feet. lucrative do the math Kanoa said in his note $5000 mortage plus electric $300 to $400 gas $100 to $200 cable/phone/DSL $140 do the math you would need 12 guys paying $500 a month just to pay the bills. THINK ABOUT IT I have.

  20. Anonymous8:25 AM


    SAVE your money this is not a lucrative business nor does the parole department pay the bills. the only payment you get is to know you helped a addict get up on there feet. lucrative do the math Kanoa said in his note $5000 mortage plus electric $300 to $400 gas $100 to $200 cable/phone/DSL $140 do the math you would need 12 guys paying $500 a month just to pay the bills. THINK ABOUT IT I have.

  21. Anonymous11:24 AM

    my name is linda orozco and i have been fighted rehab houses in my city (newport beach) for 4 years. i know of NO sober living houses in my city-- because there is no $ in sober living, only houses 'treating' addicts.. if there is one addict in any kind of treatment (counseling, detox, etc. ) then the house MUST be licensed by the CA Dept of Alcohol and Drug Programs (ADP). But note, many houses hide behind the title 'sober living, but are indeed rehab houses making over $25,000 PER PERSON for a 3-5 mo. stay. THAT is where the $$ is. And note, according to an ADP administrator over 80% addicts in these rehab houses have been CRIMINALLY CONVICTED. Finally, yes there is a direct connection between the CA Dept of Corrections and these rehab houses. Read more at More facts are online and cite their sources.

  22. Anonymous5:52 PM

    Yes that is true about Newport Beach. There are some houses that are rehabs and are collecting a lot of money to treat these people and are owned by large corporations. The Clark house is nothing like that. The Clark house is just a group of people living in a drug and alcohol free environment. There is no treatment going on at that house nor is there lots of money being collected. Living in Burbank isn't cheap. Why shouldn't these people be allowed to live in a nice neighborhood. If they all get together and pay the bills and dont cause any problems just let them be!!

    If you are looking for a drug treatment center there is one 3 blocks away from that house that has a treatment center and I believe a sober living that house 5x's the amount of people.

  23. Anonymous11:10 PM

    I was treated at Burbank's New Way Foundations/Victory House 30 day treatment program and lived in their Sober Living for several months. I then moved to the Valley Lodge in Burbank for several more months, this time spent in two Burbank Sober Livings allowed me to establish my new life of living without my nightly six pack of beer. I'm now sober for over seven year- THANK YOU BURBANK!

    Today I'm self employed and regularly work with recovering addicts and alcoholic who struggle through the fight of their life!

    I could imagine what might of happened to my life if I didn't receive the help i needed- I might have turned to a life of crime and one of you or your loved one might have become a victim! My life was going downhill fast, BUT I received the help i disparately needed.

    If our society doesn't provide the necessary treatment for those who need it (addicts and alcoholics) you should know that you could become a victim of a violent crime committed by a very sick alcoholic or addict who disparately needs help.

    I would post my name and contact info,however the internet search engines could pick up my name which could negatively affect a personal background search, therefor I feel the need to keep my anonymity.

    Best regards,


  24. A sober living program for women who are in early recovery from drugs, alcohol, and other addictions. Many women struggle with weight and emotional issues due to poor eating habits, or using food as a substitution for the other addictions.
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  25. I'm a 30 year sober drug & alcohol woman with a good husband and 13 year old child. If these homes were really being used for those who want to get clean, I'd be the first person to bake them healthy cookies and welome them to the neighborhood. But, in my Van Nuys nice, little neighborhood near the 405 freeway and Victory Blvd, we have a Sober Living facility that is filtering Sex Offenders. Yep, this is a NEW business where our tax dollars go to paying $2,000 per Sex Offender to live who are wearing GPS anklets and have NO supervision! They are popping up ALL OVER this Valley.

    They can not live 1500 ft from a school or park, but they can live right then door to a 3 year old or a 4 year old and infant across the street or all the young boys on the block.

    All of these Sex Offenders have perpetrated Sexual, Harmful acts upon 14 year old boys and under!

    Not only are my children at risk now, but if we wanted to sell our house that we put our life savings into, who would want to move their family into my neighborhood to live next to 7 Sex Offenders. And they can put up to 30 Sex Offenders in one house.

    They are NOT licensed and once again, have NO SUPERVISION!!!

    Go to: and put in your address. See how many Sex Offenders live near you and the kids. If you see a little house on the map, that means it's a SOBER LIVING FACILITY house.

    If I wanted to bake cookies and sell them out of my house, I couldn't do it without a license and permit. But, our state can pay good money to these homeowners to house these Sex Offenders without any license or Supervision.

    It' NOT our responsiblity to help these people rehibilitate. They can't be rehibilitated. Once you have a sexual preference, that's it. It's like asking a homosexual to be heterosexual. It doesn't work.

    So, be very aware of what these SOBER LIVING FACILITIES are really being used for today!

  26. Wow. It sounds like a huge batch of Judgement was baked up in your kitchen today. First, Sober Living is not a filter for sex offenders. If there are sex offenders living in your neighborhood and you don't believe that they should be given a chance to redeem themselves to thier Higher Power and the world in general than you should go lobby for the death penalty. If you were such a "good sober woman" with such a "good husband" and a 13 year old (which by the way, makes you 17 when you had your child, 16 when you conceived. Which one of you was the sex offender that broke the law by engaging in underage sex? Oh, let me guess- you were raped by the vicious sex offender down the street, right? Right.) anyway, if you were such a "good sober drug and alcohol woman" you would have tolerance, love and selflessness in your heart to try to help the next person, not try to judge them and make them feel bad about crimes they commited in the past. The same crime that you yourself commited only 14 years ago. Why don't you be a "good, sober parent" and supervise your child yourself instead of complaining that you can't let him roam the streets unsupervised while you surf the net and yak on your cel? It is your CHILD who needs supervision- not the other adults. I am a good, sober woman who is the director of three sober living houses in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. We have many sex offenders living in this state, and many are trying to get help. Pray for them! Pray God to help them! And when you see them on the street, smile and pray some more. Let the Program shine- please don't tell people you are in AA or NA and then act like a selfish, immature, childish brat. They think we are all like that if you do. You may be the only copy of the Big Book that a person ever meets. They may judge the whole program on your behavior. You know, the program that saved your life, made you a decent wife and mother, employee, sister, daughter, citizen. You know, that program.

  27. I think the reason why recovering patients are resided to a house is because it will help them to recover faster than in a center. They will feel at home and normal. With the neighbors, they should understand why there are built houses for the needy ones.

    sober living-mike u.

  28. John VanBebber12:40 PM

    A sober living house is the reason a lot of struggling addicts/alcoholics stay sober. Informative blog.

  29. Nice informative blog, thanks for sharing.