Legislation seeking to bring quality standards to recovery housing clears House committee

As Kentucky continues to struggle with the opioid epidemic and to help individuals with substance use disorder enter into recovery, legislation was heard in committee Thursday that would serve to ensure quality in recovery housing services.

House Bill 248, sponsored by Rep. Samara Heavrin, would establish statewide minimum standards for the operation of recovery residences in Kentucky. Residences would be required to obtain certification from a certifying organization and ensure residents participate in key support services like employment training and self-help meetings.

The importance of housing to the recovery process for individuals in recovery was a key theme discussed during the Chamber’s Kentucky Comeback Tour during the summer of 2022. In communities throughout Kentucky, treatment and recovery specialists, law enforcement, and individuals in recovery stressed the key role that housing plays in supporting recovery from substance use disorders.

Elizabethtown Mayor Jeff Gregory testified in favor of the legislation noting they have seen a rapid growth of recovery housing in their area which has caused a financial strain on city services and has raised concerns regarding the quality of some of these facilities.

Similarly, Elizabethtown Police Chief Jeremy Thompson said while there are many trusted and successful recovery housing centers, some that are coming into the area bus people in from other cities and states to stay at these facilities. After 30 days, police in the area are finding that individuals have been kicked out of the facilities without their belongings and no access to resources they need as they are not from the area.

Thompson said their area has seen an uptick in overdoses, some even within the facilities of these “bad actors.”

“There are many groups providing great services to those in recovery but there must be some kind of oversight in this space,” Thompson said, noting there should be standards to help enforce requirements on recovery residences and protect the most vulnerable.

Also testifying in support of the bill was Gene Detherage with the Kentucky Recovery Housing Network. An individual in long-term recovery, Detherage noted that his recovery would not have been possible without access to safe, quality recovery housing. Heavrin explained that the bill has a committee substitute that contains an agreement among treatment providers and other stakeholders. She also stated she expects continued discussion on the bill as it heads to the House floor.

Stay tuned to The Bottom Line for more updates.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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