Javier Diaz is the home owner of the only home on Shannon Circle that is not part of the Phoenix Recovery Center, a transitional housing service for recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. His home stands out among the others. It has cars in the driveway, Christmas lights on the roof and toys on the patio.
Diaz has three teenagers and four children, ages 10, 9, 4 and 2 living in his home. “They play inside the house,” Diaz said. “They’re no longer allowed to ride their bikes. I don’t trust [the Phoenix Recovery Center tenants]. “
The house sits among 16 duplexes with up to four occupants in each unit at a time.
Diaz’s brothers and older sons are upset with his living situation, he said, and will no longer come to visit him. When his 20-year-old daughter arrives at his house, the men next door suggestively call to her, he said.
Many mornings he’s walked out on his porch to find one of the men sleeping on his patio furniture. “I tell them, but the guys don’t listen,” Diaz said. “They do whatever they want.”
The Phoenix Recovery Center is a subsidized rent program registered through the Department of Human Services. It has been operational since May 2012, but the Conway City Planning Department discovered the program was accepting former prisoners and parolees in July.
A public hearing was held last night at the Planning Commission meeting.
Sept. 24, city council will vote on an amendment that will allow the Phoenix Recovery Center to continue to accept tenants from the Department of Community Corrections.
Derek, a recovering drug addict from New Orleans, said there’s always going to be one bad person that ruins it for the whole bunch, but the majority of the men at Phoenix Recovery Center see it as a “blessing.”
Terry, who has been in and out of prison since the age of 11, is working to become a mentor with Life After Prison Ministries. He credits Phoenix Recovery Center and Life After Prison Ministries to helping him accept freedom and a free world.
Diaz and his family live in a five bedroom house that was built by Habitat for Humanity in 2008. Diaz said he would like to move, but doesn’t have the means to do so.
William “Woody” Wood, house manager of the Phoenix Recovery Center said the center “gets along” with Diaz and his family. “They’re cool,” he said. Woody put in a driveway at their home, and Diaz’s son helps some of the recovery center tenants find jobs.
Shenel Sandidge, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Faulkner County, said with Diaz being Hispanic, the language barrier makes it difficult to communicate with the homeowner, so she often speaks with the children.
“They don’t have a full understanding of what was going to be there,” she said. “I don’t now how that happened without a proper meeting or notice of some sort
with families over there. I don’t know how that happened, but there’s nothing we can do because it was permitted to be.”
Habitat for Humanity also owns a vacant lot across the street from the Diaz household, large enough to build two Habitat for Humanity homes. When asked if Habitat for Humanity still planned to build on that location, Sandidge said the nonprofit would have to think twice.
“We have a hard time putting a family in that environment,” she said.
Phoenix Recovery Center owner, Matt Bell has expressed interest in purchasing the home at market value, and program manager of community development Scott Grummer said he and his department could help the Diaz family move if it were something they were interested in.
(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1215. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)