Dear Residents and Alumni of Serenity House,
Did your House Manager ever offer you emotional support? Were you ever provided transportation to an important court date or taken to the DMV to get your license? Did any residents you met become true friends? Did other sober living styles not work for you in the past? Has Serenity House helped you in any way?
I am asking that if you said yes to any of these questions, you listen up: SERENITY HOUSE IS IN JEOPARDY and I NEED YOUR HELP.
The Hansen Foundation is in MAJOR Jeopardy of losing everything. This would mean, no more Serenity Houses, Serenity Estates, The Hope Farm, and the Enlightened Cafe. It all began with our sober living house in Somers Point receiving a complaint from a neighbor. This created a 5-year legal battle with the State of New Jersey and just now egregious and ludicrous $594,000 in fines plus legal fees.
After our first NIMBY Somers Point complaint, an inspector came to interview and review the house. They demanded we become “Oxford Like” meaning we would have to remove our supervision including all Recovery Support Specialists and divest ownership interest in the house. What the complainant and inspector didn’t realize is the operational expertise component: what makes Serenity House so successful is the accountability residents have to Recovery Support Specialists, accountability to clean urines, curfews, chores, and the therapeutic value of one resident helping another. The inspector asked me to lie and say that we were running an “Oxford like” residence. Refusing to lie, I have been tirelessly asking for the state to grant reasonable accommodation to the Hansen Foundation in accordance with The Federal Fair Housing Act and American Disabilities Act.
I want to be clear, this is not a money-making endeavor. We try to keep the rent reasonable and we have 3 fundraisers per year to raise the rest of the funds necessary to operate and award some scholarships. We do not get any outside or government funding. I do not personally draw a salary from the Hansen Foundation. This is truly a labor of love. I have used my own money to pay the legal fees to fight for the rights of recovering addicts and the state is using your money, yes, taxpayer’s money, to take away the best sober living houses in the state.
I am asking that you help me to help you and others seeking effective long-term recovery residences by doing the following:
1. Call New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (609-292-6000 – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) and say “We write today with extreme conviction regarding the absurd penalties from Department of Community Affairs on the Hansen Foundation/Serenity House, LLC in the sum of more than $594,000. We adamantly request DCA to either suspend the fines until the Hansen Foundations pending action in the United States District Court in Camden is settled or meet with the Foundation in an attempt to work out an agreement. These fines will bankrupt the Hansen Foundation. If this happens, I will lose my home. This is the best I have ever done in my recovery process and I am asking you to “have my back” and the back of the Hansen Foundation. They are truly addressing the needs of recovering addicts during the worst heroin crisis this state has ever seen. Please don’t allow them to shut down my home.” Feel free to use your own words and personal details.
Also send to Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver – Email: email@example.com
2. Sign our petition on org titled: “DCA to Grant Hansen Foundation a Reasonable Accommodation” and share it with everyone to get the word out.
3. Follow The Hansen Foundation Facebook for more updates to come.
4. Support the Assembly Bill 3607 to allow for Recovery Residences to be exempted by DCA when certified by NARR (National Alliance of Recovery Residences) affiliate.
I really need all the help I can get.