Group homes, or “group residential facilities,” provide a much-needed service, allowing those vulnerable to discrimination access to equitable housing and support in residential settings.
Group homes come in government-run, non-profit, or for-profit varieties. Not only are they permitted and protected by federal law but they are a welcome resource for any community.
There is an argument to be made, however, that corporate-owned, for-profit, short-stay rehabs are NOT group homes but businesses testing the limits of the FHA and ADA. Because of their large-scale of operations and sequestered, temporary dormers, these facilities pose an existential threat to R-zoned neighborhoods.
Different municipalities have different zoning ordinances to address (or not) some of these issues. In McLean, VA, for example, a special use permit is required for anything designated as a “Congregate Living Facility” (CLF). Group homes, halfway houses, sober living homes, medical care facilities and other designations are often loosely defined and open to interpretation and, too often, there is little guidance on issues such as clustering, school-zone proximity, or patient length-of-stay. This needs to change.