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Governor Wolf Signs Legislation to Regulate Recovery Homes

December 19, 2017

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today signed Senate Bill 446 to give the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) regulatory authority to license or certify recovery homes that receive public funds or referrals from state, county, or federal agencies.

“It is a priority of my administration to do all it can to fight the heroin and opioid epidemic,” Governor Wolf said. “Recovering from the disease of addiction is not an easy task and it’s our job to ensure that recovery homes, where residents should feel safe and protected, are adhering to the highest standards so residents have peace of mind to focus on getting well.”

This bill was one in a package of legislation that Governor Wolf pushed for passage of earlier this year. This legislation also tracks much of the work done by the Wolf Administration’s Recovery Home Task Force, which released recommendations in July 2016 for certifying recovery homes. The task force was made up of members from law enforcement, treatment providers, recovery houses, county and state drug and alcohol agencies, and advocacy and recovery-support groups. The task force’s work helped inform this legislative action and is providing a roadmap as DDAP works to draft regulations.

This bill will allow DDAP to regulate and license recovery homes, which are residences specifically for people in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction.  Only certified recovery homes are to receive state or federal funding of any kind, and state or county courts must give consideration to certified recovery homes when housing recommendations are made for individuals under their supervision. DDAP will create and distribute regulations in cooperation with stakeholders to ensure a safe and healthy environment for residents, and to protect them from exploitation.

“Recovery homes can be a supportive, drug-and-alcohol-free environment for Pennsylvanians in recovery, but without proper oversight, they can also become unsafe,” said DDAP Acting Secretary Jennifer Smith. “I applaud the General Assembly for recognizing the need for oversight to ensure that we hold recovery homes that receive public funds or referrals from state, county, or federal agencies to the same standard as other treatment facilities. This law will protect some of our most vulnerable constituents at critical time in their recovery journey.”

Senator Tom McGarrigle was the bill’s prime sponsor.  Representatives Frank Farry and Tina Davis were among the many advocates for the legislation.

“The addiction crisis is affecting our families in Delaware and Chester counties and in every corner of Pennsylvania; access to effective treatment is vital in turning the tide,” said McGarrigle.  “People entering the recovery process have taken the crucial first step to a better, productive and healthy life.  Approval of SB446 sends the message that we will not let that journey be cut short due to the lack of a safe and secure environment for recovery.”

“Ensuring we have a strong and reliable system in place to assist recovering individuals with their journey back into society is a crucial part of addressing Pennsylvania’s opioid epidemic,” Farry said. “With Governor Wolf’s signature, we can begin working to establish specific policies and procedures for safe recovery housing and surrounding communities.”

“Thank you to my colleagues in the legislature and to Governor Wolf for seeing what a critical issue having safe, secure, and clean recovery housing is for the commonwealth, both for those dealing with the disease of addiction and for the communities where these houses are located,” Davis said.

Before Senate Bill 446, recovery homes were only subject to the local ordinances of the municipality or township in which they are located.

For more information on treatment options in Pennsylvania, county-based resources, and the Wolf Administration’s efforts to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic, visit www.pa.gov/opioid or www.ddap.pa.gov.

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