Halfway houses are supposed to provide safety, support and structure for those trying to beat drug and alcohol addiction. But that's not what many struggling addicts find when they check in.
"The truth? It's just a homeless facility. It's not a recovery" said 41 year old Kieran Knox.
Knox says he's packed into a single apartment with six other men who are expected to board busses before dawn for 12 hours of manual labor at minimum wage. All that work goes to pay "fees" to the halfway house operators who often have little or not training.
Operating a halfway house can be profitable. An apartment rented by a halfway house for $1,000 dollars can be essentially sublet to a half dozen clients for four times as much.
In fact, halfway houses for those just released from detox centers, hospitals or jails are almost completely unregulated in Florida. And as our investigation with the Tampa Bay Times revealed, some operators have extensive criminal records.
"Often times these places, will take the clients money and then not pay rent or not do the kinds of things they're supposed to do so the client ends up in even worse shape than they were before" said Sarah Snyder of the Pinellas Coalition for the Homeless.
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