Philadelphia Man Accused of Running Illegal 'Recovery Homes'

By McCarton Ackerman 09/19/14

Jeffrey Jackson has been accused of putting recovering addicts at risk by housing them in rooms deemed unfit for human dwelling.

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A Philadelphia addiction counselor has been accused of putting the lives of dozens of addicts in danger by housing them in unlicensed recovery homes deemed unfit for human dwelling by the city.

Jeffrey Jackson, himself a former addict, has been renting rooms in hazardous homes to desperate addicts despite not having a rental license or zoning permit. He charges residents up to $600 per month in rent and food stamps, giving them three meals per day while helping them get on an Addiction Medicine & Health Advocates (AMHA) methadone program.

Jackson’s homes in Kensington and Cambria received 20 visits from police over a 12-month period for a variety of complaints. Former tenants claimed that the house was infested with bed bugs and rats. Inspectors deemed the house unsafe and in danger of collapse in 2011, but Jackson continued to operate the facility even after L&I’s Code Enforcement Unit informed him last March that the house “presents an immediate hazard to safety and must be evacuated.” Prior to that, in 2009, inspectors described his Allegheny home as “dangerous to human life.”

Other former tenants claimed that he threatened to cut off their methadone access if they left the house. "He told me, 'I don't go through the system. I have my own system,'" said Diane Sanford, a 64-year-old heroin addict. "I was intimidated and I was afraid." Jackson refused to speak to reporters, declaring that “whatever you gotta do, you gotta do. I don’t think you’re being fair.”

However, Jackson has supporters who believe that he has good intentions and is simply in over his head. "A guy like that has that many people - that many addicts at his grasp - all the addicts in the city know him," said Carl Williams, from whom Jackson rented a $4,000-per-month home before falling behind on his payments. "If he could change 10 percent of them, that would be a great big help to the city even if he [is in violation of city regulations.]"

Robert Holmes, AMHA's executive director and Jackson's boss, also said that he was aware of Jackson renting out homes and didn’t see a conflict. He also said that his patients “have a right to live  wherever they want. If they choose to live there, that’s their decision.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.