HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The head of local drug addiction recovery center The McShin Foundation says he has several houses across the Richmond area aimed at trying to help save the lives of recovering addicts. However, he says he feels like he’s being unfairly targeted by local officials just because of who is living in these homes.
“We’re held accountable with drug tests, curfew, just different rules and regulations,” said former addict Brylee McFadden.
McFadden is one of twelve former addicts living inside a Hanover County home off of Chamberlayne Avenue. Mcfadden says she’s tried several drug treatment options but believes living in what’s called a recovery house is her best bet at staying clean.
“There’s so much space that feeling cramped is not an option,” said McFadden.
The idea is to support one another with everyone having the same goal.
“To be away from the people that I used to associate with has been one of the best things for me,” said McFadden.
But the man behind these recovery homes says they’re under attack from local officials.
“They’re trying to drive us out of the community, the agencies are, and that’s wrong and it’s illegal,” said John Shinholser with The McShin Foundation.
Shinholser says in Hanover, the fire department received a complaint about the house. Thursday the department went through the home and found no violations. At a recovery home in Henrico County, Shinholser says he was asked to install a sprinkler system costing $25,000, and he says the county says he has more to do in order for the home to stay where it is.
“It’s discrimination and it’s harassment and it needs to stop immediately,” said Shinholser.
We reached out to officials in Henrico County and the Hanover County Fire Department. In Hanover, they say they follow up on any complaints filed and are not requiring The McShin Foundation to do anything with the home. We are still waiting to hear back about what ordinance or code requires a sprinkler system at the home in Henrico.
We also reached out to a local fair housing attorney from the organization Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia (HOME). They say generally recovering addicts are considered disabled and protected under state and federal laws. They say localities generally have to approve reasonable accommodations such as higher occupancy for places like recovery homes and cannot require conditions as part of those accommodations.
Meanwhile, McFadden says if former addicts are forced to move out, it will have a negative impact.
“It would be detrimental. I feel like this house has been a solid foundation for a lot of women in the early beginnings of their recovery.”
“By them playing games, they’re killing people,” said Shinholser.