Addicts deserve better

I was astonished to read about the Air Bridge network and its mission to assist Puerto Ricans in drug recovery ("Dumping heroin addicts in Philly," Nov. 13). The Air Bridge network serves as the most ineffective way to provide help for the numerous drug addicts of impoverished Puerto Rican communities. This network takes Puerto Ricans out of their homes and places them in an unfamiliar, poor sections of major cities in the United States. The opportunities of these men are restricted upon arrival in Philadelphia by the ministers operating these houses. They lose all forms of identification and benefits, such as Medicaid and Social Security. The system erases their sense of community and masks their identity.

The Air Bridge network is referred to as a system of human trafficking. This system is supposed to help the men recover and grow, but they can't recover when their new environment is worse than the one they came from. The Air Bridge network is only increasing the poverty rate and number of drug addicts in Philadelphia.

If we want to see an effective recovery for these men, we first need to place them in a well-structured and beneficial environment.

|Kaitlin Fee, Delran, feeke@dukes.jmu.edu

Operators fill a void

The migratory patterns of recovery houses far exceed Air Bridge, with thousands of addicts coming from Camden; Newark, N.J.; Baltimore; and New York since the early 1980s.

Philadelphia has never had the money or political will to regulate recovery houses, and the reasons are far more powerful than rogue operators. Deindustrialization, federal retrenchment (28 percent of Philadelphia's budget came from the federal government in 1980; this year, it was about 8 percent), welfare retrenchment, mass incarceration, and devolution explain why recovery houses persist. They are the reasons that the houses are so well-connected to formal systems of legitimacy, from hospitals and detoxes to public welfare officials and probation and parole officers. These poverty-first responders place addicts in recovery houses, often walking them to the door in handcuffs, simply because they have no choice.

An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 addicts a night sleep in recovery houses. If there is an indictment to be made, it is of austerity and postindustrial capitalism. The operators should organize themselves, come out of the shadows, and demand a seat at the table to improve the desperate conditions under which they labor. While operators have been the whipping boys, they have taken in addicts when no one else would. The houses persist because a city as uneven as ours desperately needs them.

|Robert P. Fairbanks II, lecturer, urban studies, University of Pennsylvania, rfairban@sas.upenn.edu

'Hamilton' upstages the victors

Insults and ill manners are acceptable at the theater as long as they are directed at conservative figures ("Poitical drama at end of play," Sunday). So, does the media support the cast of the musical Hamilton for castigating Vice President-elect Pence at Friday's performance? Just like during the campaign, the media and their showbiz gang won't give up their arrogance and be polite losers. We will expect this denial stage to continue with negative views of every nominee and criticisms of every action by President-elect Donald Trump's team. Will this new minority ever accept that Americans voted for a change of direction, or will they assume the role of Aaron Burr?

|C. Thomas Howes, Havertown

Worthy of rebuke

The cast of Hamilton owes an apology to no one. That a demand for an apology came from a man who insulted, denigrated, and maligned millions of people and never apologized for his egregious remarks is ridiculous. The First Amendment is more important than the Second right now.

|Jean Hepner Jack, Woodstown

No room for hate

Bravo to Helen Ubiñas for her column, "Don't play nice with Trumpsters, even family" (Friday). We may have to accept that Donald Trump is our president-elect, but we will never accept his bigoted statements, filled with sexism, racism and misogyny, as permissible. Whether spoken by the president, a relative, a friend or foe, we must never allow hate speech to prevail. Despite the election results, with so many of us choosing to overlook the lies and degrading comments, I still believe in the ultimate goodness of my fellow citizens who know that words matter and that the ugly nature of Trump's vitriolic speech is not worthy of us.

|Grace E. Herstine, Honey Brook

Stop Trump bashing

Columnist Helen Ubiñas continues to provoke the lies and misguided beliefs that President-elect Donald Trump is a racist, sexist, and unfit for the job, and surrounds himself with the same class of people.

She states, "While everyone is jumping on the narrative that we were short on fact-based journalism during the election, open your eyes," but Ubiñas failed to mention Hillary Clinton's misdeeds that journalists refused to investigate and report.

Voters saw through that and the Ubiñas types, who have no intention of abandoning the harsh, divisive treatment before seeing any positive results of Trump's presidency.

|Stephen Dreher, Philadelphia