Fred Way, the executive director of the Philadelphia Association of Recovery Residences said he’s been pretty successful his whole career. But he was unsure if he could continue that trend when he decided to create PARR.
After working in the Department of Behavioral Health’s intellectual disabilities office for more than twenty years, he decided to take his career in a new direction in 2011. PARR helps certify recovery housing in Philadelphia.
Most recovery homes are in the 19124 ZIP code, Way said, which is the Kensington and Frankford area — often considered the main point of Philadelphia’s opioid epidemic.
Way explained that there are two types of recovery housing: funded or unfunded. In a funded recovery home, there is a 24/7 paid staff, but in an unfunded recovery house, staff is probably unpaid and most likely not 24/7.
With the help of PARR, L&I will inform the owner of the recovery residence of the home’s needed repairs and modifications for the new zoning, like fire alarms, fire extinguishers, exit signs and more.
“If we do this the right way, it’s the only way to do it,” Way said.
Way added that it’s hard for him to walk down Gurney Street in the city’s Fairhill neighborhood.
“You will walk away with a tear running down your eye,” Way said. “In this City of Brotherly Love, a city that has a system that makes 1.6 billion a year, you have people living in boxes.”
He explained to us that it’s not a simple task to become a recovery residence. It needs to be approved at some sort of community meeting by others living in the neighborhood. The owners of the recovery residence must be 100 percent honest about the intended use of the facility.
If the residence is approved at a community meeting, the owners of the recovery residence must have an open house or invite community residents in to view the home, so others can hear what the residence will do for the neighborhood.
Way also explained to us the clear difference between a recovery residence and a boarding home: you can drink or use drugs in a boarding home.
All recovery residences in the city also must have mission statements, written house rules, admission criteria, supervision requirements, health and safety rules, living accommodations, residents’ grievance policies and drug and alcohol screening policies.
“The main theme in all successful recovery residencies is one person in recovery helping another,” Way s