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CORRECTION: Pushback expected at council meeting over group rehab home ordinance

Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 8:40 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 13, 2021 at 5:35 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - This article has since been corrected. The ordinance covers treatment facilities and homes, not just homes.

ORIGINAL STORY: 7/13/2021

Parkersburg City Council is prepared to discuss an ordinance that would ban more group substance use rehabilitation homes and treatment facilities from opening until late June of year. Not everyone is happy about the proposal.

WTAP spoke with Rich Walters, the co-founder of a business that helps people recovering from substance abuse disorder.

He’s one of the people pushing back.

“I don’t want the friction. I don’t want to argue. I don’t want to fight but here we are. We have to fight for these people because they need help,” Walters said.

Despite the ordinance’s claims that these facilities contribute to a growing homeless population, Walters says they do the opposite. Walters explained that, for some leaving a 28 day in-patient facility, they don’t have many options.

“...they’re either going to be rehabilitated within the confines of one of these homes or they’re going to be on the streets,” he said.

Walters has struggled with substance-use disorder before, however he was able to stay with his mom and dad for a sober-living environment.

He said not everyone’s so lucky.

“They have no loved ones. They have nobody that cares about them so once they get released out of jail or treatment or whatever the case may be - a lot of these people don’t have anybody who’s going to bat for them and support them.”

The ordinance also points to an increase in the homeless population contributing to a rise in crime rates over recent years. Walters, however, said it’s more complicated than that, pointing to stressors from the pandemic.

“Someone’s always got to get the blame and I think that people in this space, especially people who suffer from substance use disorder, are the easiest scapegoat,” he said.

Walters and others will be at Tuesday’s city council meeting to voice their opinion.

The meeting will be held at 7:30.

The ordinance also questions how homes and facilities are regulated as well as why such a large percentage of the state’s beds are in the area.

You can read the ordinance if you click here.

WTAP has also discussed the ordinance with a councilman in favor of it. You can find that story if you click here.

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