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Mazzeo & Armato Bill Supporting Sober Living Homes for Residents in Recovery Clears Assembly Panel

To ensure sober living homes for those struggling with substance abuse in New Jersey meet certain standards, legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Vince Mazzeo and John Armato was approved Monday by the Assembly Human Services Committee.

The bill (A-2270) requires the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to approve a credentialing entity to develop and administer a voluntary certification program for recovery residences in the state.

“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.”

“Recovery residences,” as outlined in the bill, provide home-like atmospheres available in a professionally-managed or peer-managed facility. Such homes offer drug and alcohol-free living accommodations for individuals with substance abuse disorders and co-occurring mental health issues. Sober living homes do not provide clinical treatment services.

“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.”

The bill would require DCA to use a portion of the money annually appropriated to the department to provide annual funds to a credentialing entity for it to carry out its responsibilities under the bill’s provisions.

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

  • establish requirements for the voluntary certification of recovery residences and the annual recertification of certified recovery residences;
  • establish requirements for the voluntary professional certification of recovery residence administrators and the annual recertification of certified recovery residence administrators;
  • establish criminal background check requirements for the administrators and employees of professionally-managed facilities, as deemed by the credentialing entity to be necessary;
  • administer all aspects of the recovery residence certification program, and establish procedures as necessary to facilitate the application, certification, and annual recertification processes used in the program;
  • engage in the on-site pre-certification inspection of recovery residences that apply for a certificate of compliance;
  • issue a certificate of compliance to any recovery residence that has satisfactorily passed an on-site pre-certification inspection and satisfies all additional requirements, established by the credentialing entity;
  • issue a professional certification to any recovery residence administrator,
  • establish procedures and protocols for the regular monitoring and inspection of certified recovery residences, which procedures and protocols shall, at a minimum, require the credentialing entity to conduct at least one unannounced on-site inspection of each certified recovery residence, as a condition of annual recertification; and
  • establish an Internet website to provide information to the public about the recovery residence certification program.

The measure now heads to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.