Municipalities throughout the nation continue to use zoning to exclude community residences from residential districts despite the presence of numerous court decisions that recognize community residences for people with disabilities as a residential use. Over the past year multiple Florida cities have imposed tougher regulations on community residences for people with disabilities. These communities include group homes, sober living homes, recovery communities, and assisted living facilities that emulate a biological family. In creating these regulations, cities cite to the protection of individuals from the actions of unscrupulous operators and also the need to avoid a concentration of community residences in one area that have shown to undermine the goals of the residents. Thus, if you are an operator in one of these cities, you may be subject to heightened scrutiny and additional documentation requirements ranging from simple registration to submitting an application for a conditional use permit requiring an appearance before a planning and zoning board.
State licensed addiction treatment facilities with licenses that include community housing are confused about whether they have to also be certified by the Florida Association of Recovery Residences (FARR) by July 1, 2018. Attorney Karina Gonzalez has filed a petition with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to clarify the issue. A fairly recent state law (397.4873, Fla. Stat.) requires addiction treatment service providers in Florida to refer clients only to recovery residences certified by FARR.
FARR is a private, non-governmental entity approved by DCF to develop and administer a voluntary certification program for recovery residences. FARR has taken the position that it has also been approved to develop and administer a voluntary certification program for DCF-licensed community housing providers. “We think,” attorney Gonzalez said, “they’ve got it wrong. It makes no sense to stack the FARR certification requirement on top of existing state licensure.”
There has been a growing trend in the substance abuse rehabilitation industry to provide services through a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. Unfortunately, there is also a growing trend relating to IRS audits of non-profits. An audit by the IRS can yield many negative outcomes, including the revocation of a treatment center’s tax exempt status and fines imposed on the organization and/or its Directors when the non-profit fails to operate within the rules applicable to 501(c)3 non-profit organizations.
A non-profit may be able to fly under the IRS’s radar for a few years, but as the years pass, the chances that non-profit non-compliance will be caught by the IRS grows exponentially. To protect your non-profit, please follow some of these basic rules:
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