Recovery houses a hot topic at Frankford Civic meeting

Illegal housing for addicts “has been plaguing our neighborhood for years,” state Rep. James Clay told members of the Frankford Civic Association during their Sept. 5 meeting.

The 179th District Democrat was addressing those sentiments to a receptive group. The association’s members have complained for years about large numbers of unlicensed and crowded buildings used for “transitional housing” for recovering narcotics addicts.

The civic association isn’t against addicts trying to recover, said the group’s president, Pete Specos, but it is against so many halfway houses and recovery houses being in Frankford, especially, he said, since so many are not being operated under any government control. Many of the operators of these houses simply take money from addicts and provide little more than a place to sleep and pick up their public assistance checks.

“We are not against recovery,” Specos said. “We are against taking money and not helping.”

Clay is hosting a town hall meeting to discuss the problem from 6 to 9 p.m. on Sept. 19 at Aria Health’s Frankford campus, 4900 Frankford Ave. He encouraged neighborhood residents to report illegal facilities to his office before the meeting by calling 215–744–7901.

“Some of these houses are really bringing our neighborhood down,” Clay said.

Another guest speaker, state Rep. Brendan Boyle, talked with the association’s members about his background and his planned run for the 13th Congressional seat in 2014.

Boyle is among four Democrats who will seek their party’s nomination for the seat now held by U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz. The congresswoman is running for her party’s gubernatorial nomination. About half of the district is in Philadelphia. The other half is in Montgomery County.

Boyle said he is the only Philadelphian in the congressional race.

“The others are Main Line millionaires,” he said.

The lawmaker stressed his middle-class roots and said he sees two parts to his role in the state legislature. One, he said, was to work on policy and legislation. The other is to address local, quality of life issues. He said he would approach holding a congressional seat the same way.

Specos said parishioners of the recently closed St. Joachim’s R.C. Church are petitioning the Vatican to reopen the church. To raise money to pay legal fees, they’re holding a Beef and Beer night on Friday, Dec. 13, from 7 to 11 p.m. at the New Philadelphia Ballroom, 2014 Horning Road. Tickets are $30, Specos said, and the event is open to adults only. There will be an inexpensive cash bar for those who want a little more than beer, he said. ••