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Residents fire questions at sober home representatives

Humphrey Sober House, a Vanderburgh House property and Marblehead’s first sober home, held a question-and-answer session at the Jewish Community Center On Monday.

The event was filled with residents who were unhappy with an apparent lack of communication from the sober home’s management. Many claimed that the sober house moved into the residential neighborhood unannounced to neighbors and even town officials.

Founder and Executive Director of Vanderburgh Communities Hunter Foote gave his remarks to start the session, followed by Marblehead Fire Captain Scott Murray. Murray leases and operates the property. President of Shelle Realty, LLC Michelle Ngila also spoke. Shelle Realty is the owner of the property.

During the session, the three presented an overview of the sober house, which opened five weeks ago at 187 Humphrey St. It was purchased as a single-family house in 2022. Currently, there are three residents and one house manager. The house allows for a maximum of 20 residents living among five bedrooms.

The property is Vanderburgh House’s second structured sober living home for men in the North Shore.

“This sober house offers a structured recovery environment led by an experienced House Mentor. The home is centrally located in Marblehead, immediately across from a bus station, and close to area amenities,” reads the sober home’s web page on vanderburghhouses.com.

Many who attended the event were displeased and frustrated with the decision to not involve residents and neighbors in discussions about the sober home coming to the town. Others questioned how it was able to get through strict zoning requirements. According to Massachusetts law, most sober homes are exempt from many zoning requirements because those in alcohol or drug recovery are protected under federal and state disability laws.