Washington, D.C. – (RealEstateRama) — Over the weekend, Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) penned an op-ed for the OC Register outlining his solution to a growing national problem with sober living homes. In the piece, Congressman Issa makes the case for returning power to state and local government by updating the Fair Housing Act to allow oversight of sober living facilites through his bill — the Safe Recovery and Community Empowerment Act (H.R. 6070).
Highlights from the piece are below. The full piece can be read in the OC Register here.
“The nation’s growing heroin and prescription painkiller epidemic has sent demand for treatment facilities to new highs. Sober homes, a place where those recovering from drug and alcohol addiction can live together in a substance-free environment in the final step of recovery, have cropped up all over Southern California. When well-run, these residences provide an important place where those in recovery can help shirk their addictions, but often many find that neither “sober” nor “home” accurately describe the environment they encounter there.
Homes can be overcrowded and poorly maintained. In some of the worst cases, drug and alcohol use festers on the premises, with some even overdosing in their care. To allow communities to rein in these bad actors, it’s time for Congress to update the Fair Housing Act to give states, citiesand localities the power to oversee sober living facilities.
The issue, of course, isn’t with those trying to overcome addiction. Especially at a time when fatal drug overdoses have surpassed car crashes as the number one cause of accidental death and as fatal drug overdoses in Orange County have now reached a 10-year high, it’s clear that people need to be able to obtain sober housing to help them get clean. The issue lies, instead, with those seizing on the lack of oversight to open substandard facilities at a rapid pace.
Cities and states have attempted to fix this problem by passing reasonable and responsible zoning ordinances, but have only been met with federal roadblocks on their path to a solution.
Expansive court interpretations of the Fair Housing Act have made it almost impossible for cities to pass and enforce housing laws on sober living homes, as they would on other types of licensed, addiction facilities. Without an update to federal law, city, state and local governments have very limited remedies to address this problem.
The honorable services that sober living facilities seek to provide should not be clouded by the few who take advantage of people during the most vulnerable times in their lives. Keeping our neighbors and those in recovery safe is the job of our cities and states, and the federal government shouldn’t stand in their way.”
The full-length piece from the OC Register over the weekend is available here.