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Pennsylvania State Senate
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 19, 2017 12:27 PM
From: Senator Thomas J. McGarrigle and Sen. Gene Yaw
To: All Senate members
Subject: Standards for Drug and Alcohol Recovery Houses

In the near future, Senator Gene Yaw and I plan to introduce legislation providing for the regulation and certification of recovery houses, sometimes referred to as “sober” or transitional houses. The purpose of these facilities is to provide support for those suffering from addiction subsequent to leaving inpatient treatment or correctional facilities. While many recovery houses do an exceptional job through providing various services for their residents, others are owned and operated by landlords whose facilities are basically “warehouses” with little to no oversight or programs.

With the depressed housing market in recent years, many homes were purchased cheaply and then by simply adding beds to provide more sleeping space called themselves a recovery home. These houses provide no services or programs. Consequently, many of the residents, lacking the structure and support to continue to work on their recovery, relapse. In some cases, there have been instances where people who have been released from a correctional facility and not in recovery are housed with people who are, often exposing them to alcohol and other substances and jeopardizing their chances for success. Additionally, the surrounding neighbors are impacted by the subsequent increase in crime and the deterioration of the properties in question.

If we really want to help those who are working to maintain their sobriety, they must have access to facilities that will maximize their chances for success – not set them up to fail. This legislation is based on standards and criteria developed by the National Association of Recovery Residences (NARR). Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, NARR has regional chapters throughout the country, including Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania Association of Recovery Residences has been working with owners of recovery residences who have voluntarily sought certification.

Unfortunately, there are still too many houses that will not be seeking certification and whose very existence threatens not only their residents’ chances for success but also the areas and neighborhoods in which they are located. The bill we are proposing is based on the PARR program and calls for the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs to establish standards and criteria for the administration and operation of these facilities. The administration and enforcement of the act will be funded through fees for certification and fines levied as a result of violations.

Please consider co-sponsoring this legislation and join us in assisting those who are struggling to overcome their addictions by ensuring that they have access to clean and safe housing with appropriate supports.

Introduced as SB446