#RightsForRecovery: Advocacy in Texas


There’s something rotten in the city of Plano, TX.

The neighborhood around Bentley Place, a transitional living home for men in long-term recovery from substance use disorders, stinks with NIMBY–Not In My Back Yard. Worse, city officials are breaking laws of decency and humanity instead of enforcing them as they turn their collective heads and close their small minds.

The owner of Bentley Place, Michelle Adams, its residents, and their landlord are under attack.

Citywide ignorance

Neighbors have made false allegations of drug deals. City officials have harassed neighbors by going door-to-door at all hours gathering information about so-called wrongdoings.  Police are following up on complaints when cars are not parked the exact distance from a curb.

The Narcotics Division even paid a visit to the house (no drugs on the property!) and, finally, there has been the threat of a lawsuit against the landlord.

Why? Because neighbors, and apparently the city of Plano, are misinformed about people in long-term recovery. For the moment at least, they would rather intimidate and discriminate than receive education about how recovery works.

Michelle hopes to quietly change their perceptions. She wants to make a difference in the neighborhood; she’s all about education, information and collaboration. Michelle wants folks to know that people with substance use disorders can and do lead lives in recovery on par with the daily lives of Bentley Place neighbors–but they need help getting there.

Federal fair housing laws

At Bentley Place, and hundreds of other recovery houses across the country–people in recovery regain their lives under protection afforded by federal fair housing laws. These residents meet house expectations that they’ll get jobs, tend to their chosen recovery path, share household duties and above all, maintain their recovery.

Michelle, herself in long-term recovery, knows first-hand what it’s like to feel the unsavory weight of discrimination. When she left prison after serving 13 months for three felony drug charges, she couldn’t get an apartment in her name.

“I decided at that point I never wanted to see another woman with the look in her eyes that I had,” Michelle said.

It wasn’t long before she opened her first recovery residence–Recovery Inn for women–in 2008.

Ironically, she had help from the Small Business Development Center in Plano. Michelle also brokered a mentoring arrangement between her residents and students and professors of the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University and with members of St. Andrew United Methodist Church, also located in Plano.

Organizing peaceful support

Michelle has no interest in retaliation against her Plano neighbors. Instead, she and Young People in Recovery-Texas, will hold a large-scale vigil this Saturday in support of all recovery residences dealing with discrimination and harassment from the communities charged by federal mandate to protect them.

“This organization of support isn’t to combat the city or the neighbors–it’s to educate and inform,” says Robert Ashford, chapter lead and board member Young People in Recovery. “Protesting is often about anger and violence; rallying for recovery is something different, something more. We are lending our voices to those who need to be empowered, joining with them to educate those who seem to be heartily misinformed about what recovery is, and what it looks like.”

In addition to the local event, satellite locations will set up in San Antonio, Lubbock, Houston, and Austin. This case will be watched closely by recovery advocates across the country.

Why should you care?

You should care about Bentley Place because its mistreatment symbolizes the agony of discrimination felt by people in recovery every time they can’t get a job or insurance–or a place to live.

Society–including neighborhoods and cities–should see to it that its citizens get every ounce of support they need. People in transitional recovery homes are our sons and daughters, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, siblings, coworkers, pew mates and fellow Rotarians.

Would we treat the people within the walls of our home the way the folks at Bentley Place are being treated? Of course not. So let’s extend a hand of compassion and an arm of support.

As Michelle says, “Let’s all row our boats in the same direction.”

If you’re local to Dallas/Ft. Worth, come out on Saturday night to 4021 Carmichael Dr., Plano TX 75024, at 7 p.m. Don’t come early because from 5-7, Michelle and her staff will open their doors to neighbors who do want to learn about recovery or at least get a free cup of coffee and a cookie.

If you can’t be with us in person, please consider supporting the cause on social media using the hashtag #RightsForRecovery.

See you Saturday night!

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  1. So great that you are taking up this cause, Beth. I remember when my daughter was in sober living, there were some issues with the neighbors. They also made a big deal about the parking and similar complaints. It did work out, but understanding and compassion are so needed in these situations. If the neighbors were educated on the topic and realized that the residents are people who just want to get healthy, it would help. That is a great idea to do an open house and hopefully those that do want to learn about recovery can spread the word.

    • Beth says:

      I’m having a blast, Cathy, helping with this advocacy work. These young people in recovery are incredible; I only wish I had their guts and fortitude at that age! I’m hopeful that like the situation with your daughter, the neighbors will come around. I have to think that right now they’re taking direction from the city which so far, anyway, has been WAY less than helpful. I’m a huge believer in truth always winning, so we’ll see!

    • Neighbor says:

      I am a neighbor and knew nothing about this open house. There was no communication to the neighbors.

      • Beth says:

        Dear Neighbor,

        As you know, the weather turned nasty with the cold and drizzling rain, so plans changed at the last minute. It’s my understanding that the house was open for several hours and there was a welcoming sign out front. I was there from 6:30-8 p.m. and to my knowledge there were no neighbors that came forward to learn about the recovery program Bentley House and Michelle Adams offers. I took part in a candlelight vigil out front of the house which was very quiet, solemn and respectful. I would encourage you to connect with Michelle; she’s a compassionate woman who truly walks and talks the principles of her long-term recovery and models that behavior for the men who live at Bentley Place. If you’d like to privately forward your name and contact information to me, I’d be happy to pass it along to her. My email address is Beth@bheretoday.com.

        Thank you for taking a moment to write.

  2. Thanks for bringing this issue to the forefront, Beth. Education is so important. We need to teach people so they get rid of the misconceptions they’ve been carrying around for so long. #BreakTheStigma

    • Beth says:

      Dean! It’s so good to see you here; glad that you’ve joined us. We’re a small but mighty group. Looking forward to connecting more along this road of education and advocacy.

  3. Yeah, yet another example of stigma in action, Beth. Sure, let’s close our eyes to the reality of folks turning their lives around and push it all somewhere else. I’m proud of you for standing-up for what’s just and right. Hmmm, wonder what it’s like to perpetuate living in LaLa Land. Were I in close proximity, I’d join you. Instead, I’ll be with all of you in spirit. May you have a peaceful and enlightening evening. Thanks for what you do, Beth…


    • Beth says:

      It’s unbelievable to me how close-minded people are in this our 21st century, Bill. And if you were here with us on Saturday night, you’d feel right at home–we are freezing here! I can picture us sharing a mug of hot chocolate (with lots of marshmallows!). Thanks for taking the time to write and for hanging in with our group.

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