Dear Lt. Gov. Patrick, Speaker Phelan, and Members of the Legislature,
Texans in recovery from substance use and co-occurring mental health issues need quality recovery housing which can be promoted by implementing and incentivizing voluntary recovery housing certification linked to nationally recognized standards. Certification protects a vulnerable population and promotes cost effective outcomes for individuals in recovery from substance use disorders by using market incentives and education to promote the use of ethical and best practices. Individuals and referral agents often do not know where to report concerns and have a difficult time distinguishing between recovery housing that uses best practices and those that do not. Certification not only empowers consumer choice but provides reliable information for referrals and a means of reporting concerns.
Well operated recovery housing is a proven and cost effective means of promoting recovery from substance use issues. However, we have seen an increase of ‘bad players’ in Texas. Fraudulent business practices, patient brokering, kickbacks and misleading marketing are causing unethical referrals, financial exploitation and inadequate support. Frequently these practices do not get reported as people fear losing their housing, recovery support and employment.
While many may think licensure or regulation is the solution, local governments that place housing restrictions based on a person’s disability, a protected class, violate fair housing law. As individuals in recovery from substance use issues, residents are a protected class under Federal Fair Housing Law and the American with Disabilities Act.
Because recovery housing residents are protected under federal fair housing laws, state and local governments are restricted from regulating recovery housing above and beyond other family households in the neighborhood. The National Council on Behavioral Health and National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws both recommend voluntary recovery housing certification. By incentivizing recovery housing certification we can protect residents from unethical referrals and fair housing discrimination while providing cost effective, quality recovery housing.
Your fellow constituents