New Bedford, MA

Sober home owner must apply for reasonable accommodation

January 04, 2016
Stephen Sheldon, the new owner of an historic Hawthorn Street home, will have to prove the future residents of his building are entitled to an accommodation and that they are reasonable under the Americans With Disabilities and Fair Housing Acts.
     Sheldon, who has proposed turning 49 Hawthorn St. in the city's West End into a sober house for 8 to 12 men in later stages of recovery, said he plans to file an application for a reasonable accommodation with the city this week when he returns from vacation abroad. Under federal law, applicants have to prove they are entitled to a reasonable accommodation and explain why the request is reasonable, said John Markey, Jr., a city solicitor.
     "We want to make sure that if there is an exemption, it is for someone who is entitled to what they are requesting," said Markey.

New housing policy eases transition for those with criminal records

December 02, 2015
Greg Ostiguy of New Bedford was arrested and charged with assault and battery in August 1991 after getting into a confrontation with his brother.
     Ostiguy, then 27, had been working for a lumber company and living on Thomas Street. He spent three days in jail.
     Two decades later, Ostiguy, 47, said he is homeless, camping out at a Park and Ride near the New Bedford Regional Airport. He said he has been living on the streets because he has been struggling to find work with his criminal record and unable to afford rent. He relies on a disability check for a motorcycle accident years ago.
     A new policy and guidance from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Justice Department would make it easier for people like Ostiguy to transition from prison and gain more opportunities for jobs and housing.
     "If I had housing, I could try to do better in my life. It's been two decades.
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