Fred Way is the executive director of the Philadelphia Association of Recovery Residences (PARR). He came in to our class to discuss what PARR does and the issues the organization faces in Philadelphia today.

For recovery houses that are substandard, Way said the staff is almost always unpaid and there are many issues with overcrowding. Most substandard recovery houses do not receive funding. Houses that do receive funding from the city pay for a 24 hour staff. These funded Recovery Houses also have written house rules, admission criteria, supervision requirements, Health and Safety policies, living accommodations, resident grievances policies and drug and alcohol screening policies.

Currently, there is one LGBTQ recovery house in Philadelphia with 60 beds. The mayor himself asked the city to fund this house specifically. There is also a methadone maintenance house, a Latino house, and previously, there was an HIV positive recovery house. However, the HIV positive recovery house is no longer needed because HIV is much more manageable these days and less prevalent.

In funded recovery houses, Way said the role of House Manager can “make or break” a house, depending on how well that role is filled. The House Manager is normally a person in recovery. Many of our past speakers have said helping others stay sober helps them stay sober. This explains why the role of House Manager may be appealing to others in recovery. Empathy clearly plays a powerful and essential role in helping people stay sober.