Regulations for recovery houses in Pa. become law

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 19 – During a news conference today, state Reps. Jason Dawkins and Angel Cruz, D-Phila., celebrated the passage of Senate Bill 446, legislation that provides for regulation and certification of recovery houses. The bill was signed into law by the governor earlier today.

“Many recovery houses do an exceptional job through providing various services for their residents, but others are owned and operated by landlords whose facilities are basically 'warehouses' with little to no oversight or programs,” Dawkins said. “This new law will hold those owners accountable because they have to meet the same standards as other medical facilities throughout the Commonwealth.”

Dawkins’ language in the bill will prohibit drug and alcohol recovery houses throughout Pennsylvania from discriminating against people with a physical or mental disability, including substance abuse disorders. It will also ensure that all facilities in Pennsylvania comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Cruz said, “If we really want to help those who are struggling to maintain their sobriety, they must have access to facilities that will maximize their chances for success – not set them up to fail.”

Cruz’s proposal in the bill specifically addresses the Air Bridge, a network that promised Puerto Rican drug users treatment in lavish recovery houses in cities like Philadelphia. However, once people arrive to receive treatment, they are taken to live in rundown homes, share beds with several other people and are forced to relinquish their food stamps and other public assistance benefits.

Cruz’s language will ban the owners, administrators and employees of recovery houses from requiring residents to sign over their public assistance benefits. It will also ensure that all drug and alcohol recovery houses throughout Pennsylvania not in compliance with federal, state or local law be referred to the appropriate agency for further investigation.

Dawkins said, “Drug and alcohol recovery houses shelter and treat our most vulnerable residents. I am happy to see that the Pennsylvania General Assembly is finally taking the issue of drug recovery seriously.”

Cruz said, “This is an enormous step forward, but the government should remain committed to helping men and women in building lifelong foundations in recovery. We must ensure educational and job opportunities for this population. Otherwise, it will continue to be a vicious circle.”