Alum faces opposition in opening recovery home
The Brotherly Love House set to open in Philadelphia's Germantown
October 2, 2013, 7:28 pm · Updated October 2, 2013, 9:23 pm·
Carolyn Lim | DP
One Penn graduate is fighting to open a recovery home in an area that does not want it.
In May 2013, Devin Reaves graduated from Penn with a master’s degree in social work and a plan to open a rehabilitation home in an area outside of the typical urban environment. The home, called the Brotherly Love House, is located in a quiet residential neighborhood called Baynton Hill in Philadelphia’s Germantown and is set to open this month.
However, when the Baynton Hill community caught word of Reaves’ plans, many residents in the neighborhood opposed the opening of the house and complications ensued.
There have been conflicting reports on the number of complaints about the house. According to a Philadelphia Police officer in the area, there have been five complaints in the past month called in by concerned citizens. However, a most recent inquiry with the department yielded no complaints.
As outlined by the City of Philadelphia: Licenses and Inspections Property History website, the property itself is also listed for several violations, including no electrical permit, no construction permit and vacant property with no licensing.
In light of these allegations, Reaves commented on the stigma surrounding people with addiction problems and their alleged effect on a community. Reaves also explained that another possible issue could be that some people believe that owners of recovery homes are only in the business in order to squander money.
A former addict himself, Reaves is passionate about erasing this stereotype. “We are talking about a lot of normal people trying to put their lives back together … many who cannot get what they need for whatever reason,” Reaves said.
The Brotherly Love House program will operate much like a traditional recovery home, placing emphasis on community involvement, volunteering and job placement and activities that generate a positive, constructive atmosphere for its inhabitants.
“I’m not any kind of mathematician, but I knew there weren’t enough [recovery] homes in the Philadelphia area and that we needed more…but it’s hard to overcome a drug addiction when there’s people selling drugs around the corner,” said Reaves. Hence, he decided to open a home in a residential neighborhood.
In the current system, many addicts do not receive the care they need. According to Reaves, two of the most common reasons why this happens are the upfront costs of recovery and insurance companies that do not compensate them for enough treatment.
“The standard has been lowered. There is a gap that we hope to fill one way or another, and this [program] has to be something a normal person can afford,” said Reaves.
Citing his own research from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Reaves said that at any given time, 9 percent of the Philadelphia-metro area is in need of addiction treatment. This adds up to a need for approximately 30,000 beds in recovery homes per year if only 50 percent of those who need care are placed, according to Reaves.
Reaves is confident that no amount of opposition will prevent the home from opening this month.
“I’m excited to help people. I know that sounds so cliché…. I want to change families and communities and people’s lives,” said Reaves.