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Fall River woman frustrated in locating landlord: “Your first time being an addict can be your last time. You don’t have to relapse”



Fall River, MA – When Fall River Reporter shared the Facebook post of Casey Asteria, the open and honest letter caught me off guard. The Fall River resident spoke about her frustration in locating a landlord that would accept a tenant with RAFT assistance. The state program provides financial assistance up to $7000 for qualified applicants to help cover the costs of first month, last month and security deposits needed to get into a new rental. The program also covers some moving costs and furniture like mattresses.

The housing situation Casey is facing is part of a larger housing crisis Fall River and the state of Massachusetts is facing, but there’s another layer to her story that deserves to be told.

I asked Casey, whose real name is Casey Ortiz, if she would meet me to talk more about her story. We met at the Starbucks in Fall River and one of the first impressions I got of Casey was that she did not look like someone who was in recovery. Healthy, well dressed and sipping a coffee, she reminded me of my daughter. Well spoken, polite and confident, she instantly shattered my preconceived notions of someone in recovery. As she spoke and started to tell me more about her situation, I was even more surprised of her take on sobriety and recovery.

“Your first time being an addict can be your last time. You don’t have to relapse.”

At 25 years old, Casey spoke about how the system is structured to keep you dependent on recovery, when she felt she was strong enough to move through the process faster.

“These pharmaceutical companies make millions off of recovery. You don’t have to stay on methadone or suboxone. Sometimes, it’s almost like these places for recovery want you to stay dependent on these substances. Some people will just accept that they will relapse over and over and I want younger people to know you don’t have to waste your life. You can get sober and stay sober.”

Casey is one of five children, all of which have their own addiction history. Her mother also has a history of addiction, painting a familiar picture of the family life surrounding those who become addicts themselves, leaving people like Casey without a support system that is often needed to recover. But Casey has used her family situation to keep her motivated to stay sober.

“I don’t have any help from them so I have to help myself.”

Casey lives in a sober house, a place that she is thankful for, but has been ready to move on. The next step in her sobriety is living independently and regaining custody of her two children, but with the housing crisis, this critical step is a roadblock she did not expect.

“Living independently is a vital part of recovery. My sober living house is like a family to me, but they are not my real family. I am ready to live with my children.”

Three months ago, Casey was at Family and Probate court where a judge ruled in favor of reunification. The only hold up: Casey needs a place to live with room for her children.

“I have done everything I am supposed to do in the process to regain custody of my children. I am ready, and have been ready, to care for them, wake them up in the morning and make them breakfast. I’m ready to put them to bed at night. DCF and the courts have seen my progress and were ready to give them back, but I did not have housing. My case was continued for three months.”

With her next court date on December 12th, and still no leads on apartments, Casey says reunification will be delayed again.

“They will continue it again for another three months and we will try again.”

Casey’s two children are in Plymouth with family, a situation that makes it hard for daily visits.

“Sometimes, when I do go out there to see them, I will get a hotel room so I can stay a few nights, but it’s expensive. We Facetime every day.”

The situation is frustrating for anyone, but particularly difficult for someone like Casey on the recovery path that she is on.

“I don’t want to waste time. I want to keep moving forward on my path of recovery.”

Casey has been so successful in her rehabilitation, she is participating in a program where she attends so that she can eventually coach others in their recovery journey. She attended school and has an EMT certification. She works full time at night and because of that, does not qualify for any state or government assistance.

“I make too much money to qualify for any extra help. I pay $800 a month for my room at my sober house. I work full time. My partner and I live separately and pay almost $2000 a month apart. We could live together, save money and get ahead.”

Casey talks about how a back injury is what started her drug use, with doctors prescribing her pain medication that lead to her using street drugs. With her injury under control, she says she could still qualify for disability payments but she does not want to depend on the system. She says she sees too many addicts that abuse the system. They get housing and other benefits, all while continuing to use drugs.

“It’s so frustrating to see people take advantage of the system and those of us who do it right get no help.”

I only got to spend an hour and a half with Casey but her strength, courage to tell her story and refusal to be a victim were so memorable. We talked about how there are so many stories out there about drug addicts that are negative but Casey knows it doesn’t fit everyone in recovery. It’s because of that, she wanted to share her story with all of you.

If you are a landlord in Fall River who is willing to help Casey, please reach out to us at

Primary correspondent for the Greater Fall River area, Jess focuses on human interest stories and investigations into political corruption. She is a former fill-in host and digital contributor at The Howie Carr Show, former host of The Jessica Machado Show and SouthCoast Tonight on WBSM in New Bedford, former blogger at The Herald News and a former fill-in host at WSAR in Fall River.



  1. Checo

    December 6, 2023 at 8:35 pm

    Actions have consequences. Landlords are taxed heavily and already pay property taxes, high water rates, etc.

    When it comes time to choose a tenant most of us look for responsible people with a good employment history and no criminal record or evictions.

    While I’m sympathetic, why should this girl get precedence over the hardworking person who has been busting their rear end doing the right thing at a low-paying job and meeting all of their obligations?

    Maybe the story’s author should give her a place to stay because if someone relapses, and let’s hope she doesn’t, the court costs to the landlord are immense.

    • Oh well

      December 7, 2023 at 8:29 am

      Well said.

  2. TryLove

    December 7, 2023 at 1:03 pm

    Soften your hearts, it is Christmas. Mary and Joesph were denied quarters and the Child Savior was born in a barn filled with livestock. Regardless of what you believe religiously you do not want to walk in another Woman’s shoes. This is the problem with today’s society, there is no Mercy and no Grace shown. I’ve done much wrong in my days on this spinning sphere. I’ve been extended forgiveness, and I have forgiven. There is no hiding place from the father of creation!

  3. Numbah

    December 8, 2023 at 7:26 am

    Let’s face it- if she wasn’t so pretty no one would care.

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