Durbin calls for investigation into Puerto Rican rehab programs | WBEZ
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Durbin urges feds to investigate pipeline of Puerto Rican addicts to Chicago

Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin has sent a letter to David Montoya, the inspector general for the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, urging an investigation into some Puerto Rican drug programs with ties to Chicago.

The call follows stories from WBEZ that found that some programs send addicts to unlicensed treatment facilities in Chicago, and that the identities of some addicts appear to have gotten into other people’s hands once they arrived. Durbin sent the letter on Friday.

Specifically, Durbin has asked Montoya to look into the Bayamon Nuevo Amanecer  and the De Vuelta a la Vida programs in Puerto Rico, both of which were found to have promised addicts access to quality treatment facilities in Chicago.

“I ask that your office investigate the possible use of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding to transport people from Puerto Rico to mainland U.S. cities to receive treatment from unlicensed facilities,” he writes.

Durbin notes in the letter that Bayamon Nuevo Amanecer received more than $880,000 from HUD’s Emergency Solutions Grants since 2011, and that De Vuelta a la Vida has received at least $6.6 million through the department’s Continuum of Care grant program since 2009. Under both of those programs, Durbin says grantees may only use HUD funding for rehab services from licensed facilities. WBEZ has identified numerous unlicensed services providers in Chicago that receive addicts from those programs.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart sent a similar letter to HUD in May, urging an investigation into the misuse of federal funds by programs in Puerto Rico.

In an email, a spokesperson for HUD’s Office of the Inspector General said the department does not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.

Odette Yousef is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her @oyousef and @WBEZoutloud.

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