Transitional Homes Ordinance Creates Debate in Georgetown - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Transitional Homes Ordinance Creates Debate in Georgetown


GEORGETOWON, Del. - In Georgetown, there has been a debate forming over the support-oriented homes, often referred to as "transitional homes." On Wednesday evening, the Georgetown Town Council was set to discuss an ordinance that would ban the construction of these homes within 500 feet of an already existing one. At the meeting, the council decided to table the discussion for the following week in order to "adjust language" within the ordinance. 

The town was looking to pass this ordinance in able to limit the amount of these homes within an isolated area, arguing their close proximity to each other created problems in the community. Mayor Mike Wyatt said the economics of the location were a definite factor. 

"If you pile them all on top of each other," he said. "Then the property value is definitely gonna go down. And that's not fair to the citizens that live around there."

He said the ordinance would benefit the neighboring communities because the residents would not be facing others with similar problems and addictions in such close proximity.

"By separating them out, you won't even know they're there," he said. "Nobody wants it in their backyard, but it's gonna happen somewhere. And by spreading it out, it just creates a better environment."

But at the Sussex Community Crisis Housing Service, Marie Morole had her objections. She is the executive director for this organization which provides housing to those looking to transition back to stable housing. She said the rule would perpetuate the stereotype that those in transitional homes are creating problems. 

"I don't see the issue," she said referring to building within the radius. "People can walk two blocks and get in as much trouble in any other house as they can walk 8 blocks or 10 blocks or whatever. I just think it's a copout."

The ordinance applies to more than just "transitional homes," those that give housing to those escaping or avoiding homelessness. It also applies to various other support-oriented locations such as licensed sober houses which help recovering alcoholics and shelters for victims of domestic violence. The town said they know of 26 of these homes in Sussex County, although there could be more. 

There has also been considerable debate as to whether close proximity would lead to greater risk or greater support. Dave Clark, of Georgetown, is a former addict who said the close proximity would lead to less addiction if anything. He was once addicted to both drugs and alcohol and said personal support is essential to recovery. 

"The more people that are together in recovery, the more support they have," he said. "And they interact with each other."

Meanwhile, a woman he walked with who didn't give her name said she disagreed. She is also recovering from addiction and said the close proximity would just reignite addictions and make the neighborhoods worst. 

"It's just not a good idea," she said. "Because they wouldn't be recovering. They wouldn't be focused on their recovery. They'd be focused on each other and outside issues."

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