Harrisburg – Legislation sponsored by Senator Tom McGarrigle (R-26) and Senator Gene Yaw (R-23) to establish quality standards for addiction recovery houses in Pennsylvania was approved today by the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee.
Senate Bill 446 calls for the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs to establish standards and criteria for the administration and operation of recovery houses, sometimes referred to as “sober” or transitional houses. The purpose of such facilities is to provide support for those suffering from addiction after they leave inpatient treatment or correctional facilities.
“While many recovery houses do an exceptional job by 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,” said McGarrigle, who chairs the committee and cited disturbing news articles of facility operators fueling addictions, exploiting residents and employing counselors who use drugs.
“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,” McGarrigle added.
Senate Bill 446 is based on standards and criteria developed by the National Association of Recovery Residences, whose Pennsylvania chapter has been working with owners of facilities who have voluntarily sought certification. The administration and enforcement of the act will be funded through fees for certification and fines levied as a result of violations.
As Chairman of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, Senator Yaw has chaired public hearings on Pennsylvania’s heroin and opioid epidemic in recent years.
“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 a ‘recovery home,’” Yaw said. “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. Additionally, the surrounding neighbors are impacted by the subsequent increase in crime and the deterioration of the properties. This is a losing situation for everyone.”
Senate Bill 446 now goes to the full Senate for consideration.