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Del City facility is an institution, not a halfway house

Published: July 20, 2012

Regarding “Halfway houses ease overcrowding in prisons, save money, officials say” (News, July 15): It's a misnomer to call the 200-bed facility for prison pre-parolees in Del City a “halfway house.” I've been working as a planner and a lawyer with community residences — group homes, genuine halfway houses and recovery communities — since 1974. I can unequivocally state that a genuine halfway house has no more than 10 or 12 residents who live in a family like environment. That's why the courts have overwhelmingly allowed them in the residential neighborhoods in which they belong.

There's simply no way that 200 people could conceivably emulate a family. The facility proposed for Del City is an institutional use and has no need to be located in a residential area. I've successfully represented a similar facility in Colorado and it was located in an industrial park — which, along with commercial districts, is a reasonable location for an institution like the one proposed in Del City. For the Oklahoma Corrections Department to call this institution a “halfway house” misleads the public and insults the operators of actual halfway houses which do constitute a residential use.

Daniel Lauber, River Daniel Forest, Ill.

Lauber is an attorney who practices in fair housing, land use, municipal, real estate and zoning law.