There has been talking for many years that the state of New Hampshire wanted to regulate and license sober living homes.
Why does our state officials continue to try to make this harder for a group of people that desperately need our help? What’s even worse is that a group of people that were not in recovery from addiction would not have to subject themselves to this. So if you were in a rooming house or a group of college students living in a multi-family apartment, they would not have to be help accountable. But because it is a group of recovering SUD people that live in a sober home they would have to subject themselves to regulation. Seems pretty discriminatory to me.
Unfunded Mandate The NH Constitution prohibits the State from adopting laws that require municipalities to expend money without also providing the funding. The proposed law provides a municipal licensing scheme, which begs the question from the municipality side of things, “Who’s going to pay for it?”
If HB311 imposes standards which would not apply to a virtually identical congregate living arrangement, i.e. a rooming house, for example, meaning the only difference between the regulated residential use (sober living) and other similar residential uses is the fact that the occupants are in addiction recovery, that would be a violation of the Fair Housing Act and therefore should not be imposed on Sober Living homes in New Hampshire.
While there are bad apples that we as a community need to protect the public against, but I do not agree this is the way. People that are taking advantage of people who are trying to recover from SUD. By providing an unsafe and disgusting living condition should be shut down. This is where certain regulation around standards of living should be in place for Sober Living homes. Life safety is also an issue that should be a topic of regulation. One possible action is having to sign up with the fire department. Then meet certain standards and pass random inspections. The best option, in our opinion, is working with a 3rd party like NHCORR. This is the affiliate of the National Alliance for Recovery Residences (NARR) which has been adopted by more than 40 states to standardize the sober living homes in their area. why reinvent the wheel and spend more tax dollars to just learn that NHCORR can do this all and pay for it. This organization has been assembled for this exact reason. They are made up of sober living homes that adopt a nationwide set of standards for sober living. They’ve spent their own money to help this issue. Looking to help standardize the landscape and make it safer for everyone. Our beautiful state of New Hampshire can choose to adopt and enforce these.
I believe that the people behind this bill have a wish to help. But instead of walking themselves into a sure lawsuit, they could simply reach out. Finding those of us who have been providing this service, and have done so the right way. Our only argument is if these parties feel those safety measures are necessary, then they should be enforced upon all citizens equally. Violation of rights and making valuable SUD services harder to access amongst an opioid crisis is a slippery slope and a definite step backward.
Owner of Live Free Structured Sober Living in NH
Recently Ryan Gagne was featured on the WMUR discussing this exact issue and gave a tour of his sober living home in Manchester.