Opening a halfway house in Florida requires you to follow federal guidelines as well as local zoning laws or codes. To bring people out of jail into your neighborhood, you must meet requirements for the city or county.
Prepare a business plan and include the type of services you wish to offer residents. When preparing the plan, decide whether your halfway house will be a non-profit or for-profit business. If non-profit, file the appropriate paper work with the state and the IRS, such as 501c papers to incorporate as a non-profit.
Get to know the neighborhood surrounding the proposed halfway house. Join the homeowner's association if there is one located in your area. Present your ideas and business plan at one of their meetings.
Perform complete background checks before you hire staff members. Spend the extra money to do a thorough background check complete with references from friends, family and past employers. This will save you money over the long run.
Screen your clients as well as the employees. Decide whether you are taking residents that are in need of adjusting to life outside of jail or drug rehabilitation clients. Plan services for your target resident because needs are different for each client.
Make contacts within the community who will send clients to your halfway house. These contacts include probation officers, church leaders and the local Methadone Clinic, as well as lawyers, including the public defender's office. Most of your clients will have used one or more of those services.
Market your halfway house as you would any business. Know the demographics for the area, contact the media and perform community outreach.
- Understand that you are opening a facility in your home that will bring offenders in contact with your family. Unless you live somewhere else, be prepared to deal with any crisis that may arise from close living with a drug offender or a felon.
- Always make use of any advice offered by those in the legal fields. They know and understand the type of clients you are dealing with. Not all clients will be rehabilitated, and the rates of repeat offenses are high. Be prepared for those neighbors who object to having a halfway house in the area. Talk to them, get to know them and deal with their concerns.
- Business plan
- Guidelines for residents
- Preparation for any required commission hearings
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