Recovering addict says Seminole County facility 'unlivable'



SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - Channel 9's Karla Ray went inside a Seminole County-owned recovery center in Seminole County, where a recovering addict said he walked away from the facility because the conditions are unlivable.

The all-male Recovery House sits along Lake Minnie Drive in Sanford. It is for recovering addicts who have no place to go.

Jessie Doering said he stayed at the center for eight months, by order of a Seminole County judge.

"I would rather go back to jail than to stay there, because they take advantage of you any way possible," said Doering.

Doering showed Ray pictures of bed-bug bites covering his feet and hands.

Channel 9 confirmed that recovering addicts from the center are forced to work in places where alcohol is readily available, including cleanup at NASCAR events, and that the money earned goes back to running the center.

"I understand in the world drugs and alcohol are going to be everywhere, but in recovery you shouldn't be forced to be in that position," said Doering.

When Ray went to the facility Wednesday, she found the building unsecured.

She found that cracked tile in one bathroom covered a floor that felt soft, as if it would fall through. There were holes in the walls and towels beneath a leaky roof.

In the kitchen, Ray found milk and bread that were past their expiration dates.

In a statement to Ray, officials from Recovery House said that their purpose is to rescue homeless men "from unhealthy and unsafe conditions."

An official from Seminole County told Ray that although the conditions in the facility aren't ideal, Recovery House provides shelter and food for people who would otherwise be homeless.

Wednesday afternoon Recovery House officials released the following statement to WFTV:

The staff and board of Recovery House of Central Florida are very serious about taking care of the health and safety of our residents. We can confirm that we did recently have our first ever bed bug infestation, and we promptly called in pest control professionals to eradicate the problem. We have also recently repaired a leak in the roof affecting a small area of the building around the front entrance.

 Again we wish to express that we take great care to protect the health and safety of our residents. Indeed our very purpose is to rescue homeless men and others with substance abuse problems from unhealthy and unsafe conditions. Our programs are designed to address the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of our residents. The physical is the first building block.