DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — A legal battle between a non-profit organization trying to open a group home for addicts and the city of Dothan itself has been going on for several weeks, and documents show the city may be putting roadblocks in the way even though neighbors don’t think it’s enough.
“I think that this is a death knell for this neighborhood,” concerned Woodlands resident Sha’nah Martin said.
Time is running out for Martin and her neighbors who are trying to keep a group home from closing on a house in their neighborhood.
“It scares me because this is my mom’s house and my house is eleven hundred steps away,” Martin said.
The home would house eight to nine men with past drug or alcohol addictions, some with past criminal convictions.
The new owner, a non-profit group known as Oxford House runs recovery homes across the country, but the neighbors may not be the only ones trying to put roadblocks in their plan.
“I am very upset, I am very distressed,” Martin said.
WDHN has learned that the city asked for Oxford House to obtain a no-cost business license, paperwork that could require the group to make disclosures about their operation.
Oxford House claims that violates the Fair Housing Act and the city is using that refusal as an excuse to cut off their utilities. They filed suit against the city in Federal Court last month.
Dothan currently provides power to approximately 12 other group homes, and they’ve all provided a business license.
“What is the recidivism rate? What kind of success do they really have with their clients?” Martin asked.
These are the questions many neighbors in the Woodlands have and seem to get no answers to.
There are no staff members in Oxford Houses, only people in treatment live there in a sort of democracy, voting who can stay or go.
“Someone who is not from Dothan is not particularly interested,” Martin said. “Are they really going to be interested in who they are going to be voting in or out?”
Many residents are concerned about the men who will end up living in this house will not be from the Dothan area, or anywhere close to the Wiregrass.
“Are we going to have people who are going to be coming from Texas, New York, New Jersey?” Martin said. “I just don’t know.”
We have tried to reach out to the attorneys for Oxford House, but they hung up the phone on us.
In just a little under a week on December 1, the sale of the house will close, despite what
neighbors are concerned about.
“Are we going to have six cars?” Martin said. “Is there somebody that is going to come and check and see they are doing what they say they are doing? If they are democratically run or are they just going to be given a free run, sounds like a survivor.”
Both the city of Dothan and Oxford House are expected in court again in the near future, but a date has not yet been set.