Armato, Mazzeo Bill Providing Necessary Support to Sober Living Home Environments for Residents in Recovery Approved by Assembly Panel

Bill Establishes Voluntary Certification program for Residents and Administrators

Protecting the homes providing sober living environments for those with substance use disorders operating in New Jersey, an Assembly panel recently legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats John Armato and Vince Mazzeo.
The bill (A-3607) requires the state Department of Health (DOH) to approve a credentialing entity to develop and administer a voluntary certification program for recovery residences and their administrators in the state.

“In our district, we have a growing number of sober living homes that have been looking for the state to offer a certification program,” said Armato (D-Atlantic). “Sober living homes are vital to a large number of people in recovery and they must be regulated as such; not as boarding houses, which many of these types of homes are currently experiencing.”

“Recovery residence,” as defined in the bill, is housing with a home-like atmosphere, which is available in a professionally-managed or peer-managed facility. It provides a sober living environment and alcohol and drug free living accommodations to individuals with substance use disorders or to individuals with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. These homes do not, however, provide clinical treatment services for mental health or substance use disorders.

The bill would require the DOH to use a portion of the money annually appropriated to them to provide funds to an entity, on an annual basis, to enable them to fulfill its duties and responsibilities under the bill’s provisions.

“A sober living home is significantly different from a boarding house as they offer supervision and support, not just a bed to sleep in,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “The goal of this bill is to make it easier for sober living houses to operate in the state and continue the great work they have been doing thus far.”

In developing the recovery residence certification program, an entity would be required to:

· establish requirements for the voluntary certification of recovery residences and recovery residence administrators, and requirements for the annual recertification of certified recovery residences and administrators;

· establish criminal background check requirements for the administrators and employees of professionally-managed facilities;

· administer all aspects of the certification program, and establish procedures to facilitate the application, certification, and annual recertification processes;

· engage in the on-site pre-certification inspection of recovery residences applying for certification;

· establish procedures and protocols for the regular monitoring and inspection of certified recovery residences, which must require at least one unannounced on-site inspection of each residence; and

· establish an internet website to provide information to the public about the program.

This bill was approved by the Assembly Human Services Committee and will now go to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for further consideration.