Since then, at nearly every Frankford Civic Association meeting, the property was criticized for noise and lewdness violations. Neighbors who’ve declined to go on record call the property an “illegal recovery house.” One that, the neighbors allege, allows their residents to continue to use, distribute and sell illicit narcotics.
State Sen. Tony Payton’s Chief of Staff Jorge Santana has called it an example of “the worst of the neighborhood.” At Thursday’s Frankford civic meeting, rumors surfaced that a change was at hand.
Though the board’s zoning officer Pete Specos declined to go on record, he and others hinted at the notion that the property was going up for sale after repeated “nagging” from the community.
“We understand the need for recovery homes, places where people can get clean and stay clean,” said board Vice President Brian Wisniewski. “But this is not one of those places. This is an illegal operation, plain and simple.”
The Church Street property had become something of a poster child of a broader community fight against so-called recovery homes, which have no legal sanction in Pennsylvania or Philadelphia law, as they are unfunded by government. Instead, the worst of these properties become havens for addicted persons on government subsidies, which are pilfered by the homes’ managers. Drugs fester and violence fester.
Jason Dawkins, a representative of Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez’s office, noted that the councilwoman was scheduling a meeting with Dr. Arthur Evans, the director of the city’s Department of Behavioral and Mental Health, seen as another necessary stakeholder to develop a legal distinction to then prosecute these nuisance properties.
The protests and phone calling, “L&I and police pestering” and the like, though, may have sent a clearer, faster message, said board VP Wisniewski.
“This could be a victory,” Wisniewski said. “We could use a victory.”