When it comes to home value, the age-old belief has been all about location, location, location. However, just as important as location is what is in the neighborhood.

A study has found that residential substance abuse treatment centers in a neighborhood can have an adverse impact on nearby homes. The study used MLS data to support the position that facilities can potentially hamper nearby values.

While centers treating alcohol and substance abuse are more frequently being located within residential neighborhoods, more property owners are making a stand. They contend that the recovering addicts could bring higher crime risk to their community.

Researchers Claire Reeves La Roche, Bennie D. Waller, and Scott A. Wentland at Longwood University in Farmville, Va., conducted the study using MLS data from central Virginia to estimate the impact of substance abuse treatment centers on nearby home values.

Their research found that homes located within an eighth of a mile from a treatment center on average had an 8 percent drop in value when stacked up against comparable homes that are farther away. The discount is magnified even more when the treatment centers are for those that specifically treat opiate addiction, which includes addictions to heroin or morphine. In those cases, home values are reduced by up to 17 percent, researchers found.

Lois Payette wrote a letter to The Times Herald about the impact of a treatment center in her Clay Township, Mich., community.

“We cannot afford to have our homes devalued, and end up with mortgages that are upside-down if we should choose to sell them,” she wrote. “There is also the element of lost taxes, should the township give this facility a tax break, and our taxes go down because of a downgrade in value.”

The researchers indicated that there is a growing industry and increasing demand for treatment centers and it is increasingly likely that they will be situated near residential communities. There are few options to block them because alcohol and drug addiction is considered to be a handicap and thus alcoholic/addicts in recovery are members of a protected class under the federal anti-discrimination housing laws.

“As residential treatment centers become more common, it is important to understand all their effects, including the effects they may have on nearby real estate and how markets price the potential risk of nearby externalities,” the researchers wrote.

However, Winchester, Ind., resident Kristopher Bilbrey, by his own account, is a compassionate man. He told the Palladium-Item that his compassion doesn’t extend to him being “perfectly OK” with a drug treatment facility across the street from his front door.

Bilbrey said at one time, there were meetings held for Alcoholics Anonymous at the church’s education building and that resulted in his children not being able to play outside.

“There were a lot of undesirable people who would spend time hanging around there, and that really called into question the safety of our children,” he said. “We live in a really nice, kind neighborhood, and that changed things temporarily. We don’t want our kids to feel unsafe, and we don’t necessarily want to expose them to things that they may not be ready to understand yet.”

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