‘Three-Quarter Homes’ Force Addicts to Choose Relapse or Homelessness

By Brent McCluskey 06/03/15

New York City sends numerous addicts to alleged recovery homes it barely lifts a finger to regulate.

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New York City is home to a unique type of halfway house known as three-quarter houses, named because they fall somewhere between regulated housing and actual homes.

According to an exposé published by the New York Times over the weekend, some of the three-quarter homes provide a safe haven for recovering addicts, but others are run by nefarious criminals who force tenants to relapse so they can collect on government kickbacks.

Horace Bush, 65, is one such recovering addict who found himself at the mercy of Yury Baumblit, a three-quarter house owner who also happens to be a hustler and felon. Bush, a homeless man, decided it was time to get clean and checked himself into a drug-treatment program. Nearly a year later, he completed the program and was set on staying sober, but Baumblit told Bush that if he wanted to keep living in the three-quarter house, he’d have to relapse.

“‘Do what you do’ – that’s what he told me,” said Bush to the Times.

Bush was faced with the prospect of living on the streets again or taking drugs. He chose the latter and after getting drunk and using heroin and cocaine, he checked himself into another program and was permitted to stay in the three-quarter house.

The lack of regulation makes these three-quarter houses an easy target for entrepreneurial criminals looking to make some money. Inspections are rare and while the landlords are occasionally fined for their many violations, the city doesn’t make much effort to collect.

“The city knows it’s happening,” said Paulette Soltani, who works at the Three-Quarter House Tenant Organizing Project. “The city is sending people to these homes, but the city is not regulating these homes.”

Baumblit drew scrutiny from the state after his three-quarter homes received multiple complaints, and a nonprofit organization even filed a class-action lawsuit against him. However, he hasn’t seen any jail time and many of his three-quarter houses are still up and running.

Bush is still caught in the cycle of using, checking into a residential treatment program and getting clean. All so he can stay in the three-quarter house under the supervision of Baumblit.

“There’s nowhere else for me to go,” said Bush.

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Brent McCluskey is a Social Media Editor at International Business Times as well as a Jedi with Sith tendencies.  He is also a reader of books, slayer of dragons, and level 80 mage.

“Yeah, I have a broad skill set. If I had to pick between being a Divergent or a wizard, I'd pick a wizard.”  His wizardness can be found on Twitter and Linkedin.