A program for recovering drug and alcohol addicts must cease its work at a Blue Island facility, at least temporarily, and most of the residents must move out by Friday because of licensing and safety issues, officials said Wednesday.
Affordable Recovery Housing is operating without a state recovery home license, and the former school building in which it is housed has no sprinkler system, officials said.
Addicts are sent to the former Mother of Sorrows Catholic High School, 13811 S. Western Ave., to stay clean and get their lives back on track while learning trades such as carpentry, plumbing, small engine repair, auto maintenance, tuckpointing and detailing. The facility offers rooms and meals, and hosts Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings.
Now this work is being put on hold until the nonprofit can get its business affairs in order, according to Blue Island Mayor Don Peloquin.
“The city has a track record of working with organizations to help families. It’s not a matter of us not helping,” Peloquin said.“We have to do it the right way.”
Peloquin said 14 of the 70 residents can continue to live on the property to maintain the building and provide security for the nuns living there. The others must be out by Friday. The program’s CEO, John Dunleavy, hopes some of his contacts can provide help finding a place for them.
Meanwhile, the Affordable Recovery Housing program has to get its state license within 30 days and a sprinkler system within 60 days or be shut down, Peloquin said.
Blue Island Fire Chief Terry Vrshek on Thursday met with officials from Affordable Recovery Housing to discuss the requirements.
Peloquin said Dunleavy and others initially were allowed to move into the building without a state license so they could provide security for the nuns. Dunleavy was supposed to acquire the license and go before the city’s zoning board for final approval before allowing recovering addicts to move into the home, according to Peloquin.
Peloquin also said the program has been taking in residents who were released from prison, which goes against the original plan. But Dunleavy said his contract with the city allows nonviolent former inmates to live there.
Dunleavy also said it is unfair for the city to make the program find new homes for tenants, who live on the second floor of the school and the adjacent convent.
“No matter what we do, we take one step forward and take two steps backward,” he said.
Dunleavy claimed the city initially refused to conduct an inspection required for a state license to operate a recovery home. He also said his understanding was that installing a sprinkler system was part of a five-year plan to which the city agreed.
“The sisters lived here 80 years with no sprinkler system and no adequate fire alarm system,” Dunleavy said.“Why is it an issue now, an immediate emergency, when the sisters had lived here for 80 years? It’s not an immediate danger, is it?”
This confusion, is only possible because the City Clerk refuses to do her job and update the Codification Book, so the Alderman can have a proper nomenclature to govern our city. The Clerk had over twenty years to do this, and she refuses. It seems she enjoys this mass confusion in Blue Island, Illinois. This enables the Mayor and City Clerk to run a city as if they were home rule! Please take notice BLUE ISLAND IS NOT A HOME RULE COMMUNITY.