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Category: Social Impact

The Dark Side of Unlicensed Sober Living Homes

A group is forming at my neighbor’s beautiful three-bedroom apartment in Hollywood, California.

I enter cautiously… because even though I’ve lived two-doors down for the past two years, we’ve never met.

As the place fills in with others, it dawns on me: This neighborhood-watch meeting is not your normal get together.

That’s because a few blocks away an unlicensed sober-living facility just opened.

The owner now living next door to this new facility is here tonight. He’s not the first to talk. First, we listen to a member of our city council explain the current housing laws.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects many from prejudice when buying a home. It’s a good law, and it was crafted with the best of intentions.

Unfortunately, some unlicensed sober living facilities use those best intentions as a loophole to create unsupervised, self-governed and overfilled halfway homes.

You might imagine the value of that neighbor’s home taking an immediate nosedive. And he had just put in a pool… “sweat equity,” he said.

The State of Dating in 2016

“Twenty years from now, the idea that someone looking for love won’t look for it online will be silly, akin to skipping the card catalog to instead wander the stacks because the right books are found only by accident.”
— Rufus Griscom Wired Magazine, 2002

The modern era of digital courtship allows everyone seeking love to sift through an infinite stream of potential suitors. But are more options always better? And what does that mean when it comes time to choose just one lifelong partner? That was always the point, right? To find enduring love – a soulmate?

Have you ever seen a child selecting a flavor at Baskin Robbins? Deciding between 31 different ice-cream flavors as a child is a special form of torture. Choosing chocolate over vanilla is a rather simple decision. But increasing the available options also increases the fear of missing out (FOMO), which makes that final decision an excruciating endeavor.

A study in 1995 conducted at a California grocery store attempted to quantify our inability to choose when the pool of choice is increased. The researcher handed out coupons for heavily discounted jam at an endcap kiosk but rotated the amount of presented jams each hour. One hour, a passerby could select from six jams, the next hour that number increased to 24.

The larger assortment of jams attracted more attention, a total of 60 percent of customers were drawn to the display. When the display dropped to just six jams, attention dropped to 40 percent.

But attention alone is not entirely a statement of choice.

The Fight to Gain & Maintain the 40-Hour Workweek

“Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, eight hours for what we will!” chanted throngs of labor protesters flooding the streets of Chicago in 1886. The chants fell silent shortly thereafter when a large explosion ripped through the crowd, killing seven police officers and at least five civilians. The Haymarket Massacre marked a bloody escalation in the fight for fair treatment of workers near the turn of the last century.

And unfortunately, America’s fight for the 40-hour workweek still remains unfinished.

From the Presidential campaign trail to Wisconsin’s latest labor-law changes, it’s disheartening to see a renewed effort to dismantle that hard-fought worker victory. Imagine an America where a large portion of the working class are forced to slog to work every single day of the week, every week.

Trimming the Fringe of Suburbia

No image is more evocative of American prosperity than the sprawling tree-lined street with row after row of single-family homes. Suburbia, born in the late 1940s, came of age in the ‘50s during America’s runaway economic expansion while the rest of the world rebuilt after World War II.

The Great Expansion built a countrywide web of interstates connecting cities and states. This helped the suburbs recede further from city centers as families sought a larger slice of The American Dream, with the hopes of bigger houses and broader lawns.

“We created urban sprawl, which spread people further and further apart – further away from their jobs and into communities that weren’t designed to meet their needs,” says Leigh Gallagher, editor at Fortune magazine and the author of The End of the Suburbs.

Sixty years later, Americans are waking from the dream that embraced the United States for decades. Those once idyllic sprawling suburbs are dying. Many social and economic variables that once made sprawl so appealing are changing, and we should have all seen this coming.