Wilkes-Barre Closes Two Group Homes

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WILKES-BARRE -- The city of Wilkes-Barre ordered two homes for recovering drug addicts to close.

Officials there said they didn't even know about them.

This comes after many people who live in those neighborhoods complained about a lack of street parking next to those homes.

The sign on a home on East South Street in Wilkes-Barre said it's unfit for human occupancy. City zoning and code officials ordered the home, and another one on Gates Street to shut down.

According to William Harris, the city's director of planning and zoning, neighbor complaints of parking led to an inspection of the two homes. Harris said 15 beds were found inside the one on East South Street, and 11 beds in the other home about a mile away. It's unclear how many people were actually living inside.

The two homes are owned by a company called the Sanctuary House, an organization that according to its website, "offers a unique living experience for individuals on the road to recovery."

Harris said the city had no idea these group homes were operating here.

"It's horrendous. To tell you the truth, there's very little place to park with all these other cars. They don't only have cars, some of them have trucks. It takes up a lot of space," said Shirley Jones.

Jones lives across from the home on Gates Street. She said the owner of the building knew what he was doing.

"He knows he's doing wrong. I don't think he's a stupid man. That's why he didn't get the permits because he didn't know how that's going to turn out, but eventually it gets out," added Jones.

Jones said she doesn't mind the young men living in the home, and said they never caused any problems, only the excessive amount of vehicles.

"It doesn't bother me. Everybody needs help sooner or later, but as far as I'm concerned it's the parking that I'm annoyed about," said Jones.

Our calls and emails to the management of the Sanctuary House were not returned. City officials said group homes are allowed in Wilkes-Barre as long as they apply for special permits and are approved by the board. There's also no word on where the young men who were living in the homes will now live.