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Group Homes in Neighborhoods

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Monday, August 14th, 2000 @ 10:57 AM
Subj: County hearings on group homes
From: michelle.mcgurk@ci.sj.ca.us (McGurk, Michelle)

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors is holding hearings on a competing proposals regarding certification of Drug and Alcohol Treatment Homes and Sober Living Environments.

These hearings will be:
August 16, from 9 - 12 a.m., Health and Hospital Committee (Supervisors Beall and Alvarado as chair and vice-chair), at 2220 Moorpark, in the auditorium

August 24, from 2 - 4 p.m., Public Safety and Justice Committee, Issac Newton Senter Auditorium, 70 West Hedding Street (Supervisors Simitian and Gage as chair and vice-chair).

Caveat: these dates are subject to change with little notice.

Currently, the District Attorney's office certifies homes that receive referrals from the Drug Court. [Basically, these residents enter treatment rather than going to jail.] Under this process, the clients' background is checked before they are allowed to enter the residential program. Violent offenders and sex offenders cannot participate in this alternative. The DA's office also operates the Group Home Hotline and its investigators handle complaints.

This has been a great protection to both the residents of these group homes and to the surrounding neighborhoods. In San Jose, many of the land use permits for these facilities were based on the understanding by neighbors that such background checks would be done.

The DA has proposed expanding its services to include an option for any resident (including those who enter treatment voluntarily rather than through the court process) to voluntarily go through the background check process. If they pass, they would be allowed to enter a Certified facility. Other options for treatment (nonresidential settings, outpatient, etc) would be allowed for those who did not pass. Residents would have the security of knowing the others in their Group Home were also not violent offenders or sex offenders.

The County's Division of Alcohol and Drug Services (DADS) has proposed reducing the certification duties of the DA's office to basically fielding phone calls to the Hotline. DADS is the agency that contracts with the Group Home owners to provide services.

The Vice Mayor is most concerned about the impact such changes could have on neighborhoods throughout San Jose and Santa Clara County. The DA's program has worked and should be allowed to expand its scope. Without the DA's program in place, operators will not be able to keep the commitments they have made to our neighborhood residents about the homes that have opened in the past three years.

Finally, I have attached a sample letter that you may use. Please fill in the blanks to tell your own neighborhood's story and how this change might impact your neighborhood. It is a Word file. If you have trouble accessing it, please let me know.

We know these services are necessary, We see no need to place the residents of the facilities or the surrounding neighborhoods in danger.

Michelle McGurk, Chief of Staff
Vice Mayor Frank Fiscalini
(408) 277-5166; (408) 292-3781 FAX

Neighbor letter to supervisors.doc

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