Connection, support, sobriety, employment, and quality of life--these are all significant outcomes for people in recovery. Recovery, being unique to each person, warrants a range of housing options for individuals, whether they are transitioning from homelessness, a treatment facility, or even their own home. Continuums of affordable housing models from Housing First to Recovery Housing are invaluable to people in recovery in all walks of life.
Affordable housing models include Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH), Housing First, and Recovery Housing. PSH is community-based housing targeted to extremely low-income households with serious and long-term disabilities. It combines permanent housing with case management and wraparound care. Similarly, Housing First helps individuals and families sustain permanent housing quickly, regardless of prior engagement with services. Research shows that this approach often fits within what people experiencing homelessness are seeking and there is documented success. A summary of Housing First research is described by the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH). Positive outcomes have been found in homelessness prevention and in successful transitions from shelter to independent living. It has also worked well with several specific subgroups, such as families and women.
Recovery housing approaches differ in that they are characterized by alcohol-and-drug-free living settings, but similar in that they involve peer support and other addiction recovery aids. Recovery housing can range along a continuum of four non-linear levels described by the National Association of Recovery Residences (NARR). These levels ranges from peer-run establishments like Oxford Housing (level I) to monitored sober living homes (level II) to supervised housing (level III) and residential treatment housing (level IV). Regardless of the type of housing, all programs tend to require readings, Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings; involvement with the community; and employment, in addition to other person-specific services. Research has found that people who enter recovery housing when compared to people returning to their community directly after treatment, typically have decreased substance use and rates of incarceration (Jason et al., 2007a; Jason et al., 2006) and increased rates of employment (Jason et al., 2007a; Polcin et al., 2010).
A recent environmental scan produced by the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health and Family Services Providers and the Center for Social Innovation on Recovery Housing in the State of Ohio was released in August of 2013. Although it is specific to Ohio in terms of findings and policy recommendations, the report includes a broad overview of recovery housing, and research on recovery housing. Overall, the report indicates a need for public awareness around recovery housing and addiction on multiple levels—local, state, and national.
Key findings are listed below. In the report, policy recommendations are included with each finding:
(1). The availability of recovery housing in Ohio is insufficient, especially housing tailored to the special needs of subpopulations;
(2). Current variations in recovery housing definitions, language, and understanding pose challenges to the efforts to advance it as a model;
(3). The network of recovery housing providers in Ohio lacks the infrastructure, resources, and technical assistance to support growth and quality oversight;
(4). Existing models and preliminary standards can be built upon to expand recovery housing in Ohio;
(5). Effective recovery housing requires a range of recovery supports that are often the most difficult to fund;
(6). Various mechanisms exist to support recovery housing. However, the availability of funds and ability to access them varies significantly;
(7). Recovery housing providers require support in connecting and collaborating with established systems of care rather than creating a parallel system;
(8). Within local service networks, some recovery housing providers experience perceived and actual barriers to collaboration;
(9). County and local community contexts influence the development and expansion of recovery housing.
Despite many advocates who recognize the need for client choice between transitional housing options and housing that requires a clean and sober living environment, it can be challenging to integrate recovery housing into the continuum of affordable housing options. Ultimately, safe and healthy living environments are needed and important for people in recovery. As recovery is unique to each individual, a range of housing options that support recovery and are both available and affordable is paramount.
Jason, L. A., Davis, M. I., Ferrari, J. R., & Anderson, E. (2007a). The need for substance abuse aftercare: Longitudinal analysis of Oxford House. Addictive Behaviors, 32(4), 803-818.doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2006.06.014
Jason, L. A., Olson, B. D., Ferrari, J. R., & Lo Sasso, A. T. (2006). Communal housing settings enhance substance abuse recovery. American Journal of Public Health, 96(10), 1727-1729. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2005.070839
Lanzerotti, L. (2004). Housing First For Families: Research to Support the Development of a Housing First for Families Training Curriculum: The National Alliance to End Homelessness, Inc. Accessed from: http://b.3cdn.net/naeh/7ae0405148a30e6b9d_04m6b9x2d.pdf
Paquette, K., Greene, N., Sepahi, L., Thom, K., & Winn, L. (2013). Recovery Housing in the State of Ohio: Findings and Recommendations from an Environmental Scan: The Ohio Council of Behavioral Health and Family Service Providers. Accessed from: https://obc.memberclicks.net/assets/OHRecoveryHousing/ohiorecoveryhousingjune2013%20final.pdf
Polcin, D. L., Korcha, R. A., Bond, J., & Galloway, G. (2010). Sober living houses for alcohol and drug dependence: 18-month outcomes. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 38(4), 356-365. doi:10.1016/j.jsat.2010.02.003
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