Tempe City Council looks to combat surge of fake sober living facilities

Jan 27, 2024, 2:34 PM

(Twitter Photo/City of Tempe)...

(Twitter Photo/City of Tempe)

(Twitter Photo/City of Tempe)

PHOENIX — The Tempe City Council is taking aim at unlawful sober living facilities who have been victimizing Native Americans and unsheltered people struggling with addiction.

“It’s imperative that we protect the most vulnerable in our community and ensure the health and safety of our neighborhoods,” Tempe Mayor Corey Woods said in a release.

On Jan. 11, the council voted to approve exploration of requiring business licenses and creating an ordinance to handle the overwhelming amount of calls for service.

One of the proposals, requiring the facilities to obtain business licenses, mimics a service implemented by the city of Surprise that has seen success in limiting the number of fraudulent sober living options.

How big is the fake behavioral health care problem?

The issue has impacted communities across the Valley, not just Tempe.

In early December, ten people were arrested for recruiting 75 people to a fake behavioral health care facility in Phoenix.

The patients were mostly enrolled in the American Indian Health Plan (AIHP) which is administered by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCS).

The fake health center received $300 per-person payments per week from the duped victims, many homeless.

What’s a solution for the fraudulent facilities?

The other taskforce recommendation suggests a new system to make sure code enforcement is monitored on suspicious properties.

Getting ahead of tracking places that might be used for illicit services could help nip the issue in the bud.

“We remain committed to supporting lawful sober living homes that operate responsibly and meet the needs of our residents,” Woods said.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

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Tempe City Council looks to combat surge of fake sober living facilities