April 05, 2021

Rep. Mike Levin Introduces Legislation to Analyze Effectiveness of Sober Living Homes

Oceanside, CA – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) introduced the Studying Outcomes and Benchmarks for Effective Recovery (SOBER) Homes Act. The bill requires a federal study on the quality and effectiveness of recovery housing, including the availability of high-quality recovery housing, and state, tribal, and local regulation and oversight of recovery housing. The bill directs the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to enter an arrangement with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) to conduct the study.

“The substance abuse crisis has been devastating communities across the country for years, and we must drastically improve treatment and recovery options like sober living homes if we are going to beat this crisis,” said Rep. Levin. “Many sober living homes have failed to meet a high standard of care, neglecting to provide those who are struggling with substance abuse the care they need to recover. We can and must do better. The SOBER Homes Act will help us better understand where these facilities are falling short and what we can improve to ensure everyone in recovery housing receives the help they need and deserve.”

The study will identify research and data gaps that must be filled to better report on quality and effectiveness of recovery housing. It will also examine quality and effectiveness for recovery housing based on whether the housing is for-profit or not; whether the housing is public or private; number of clients served; bedroom occupancy; duration of services received by clients; certification levels of staff; whether residents receive services on a voluntary basis or pursuant to a judicial order; and fraudulent and abusive practices by housing and treatment facility operators.

The bill authorizes $1.5 million for the study in Fiscal Year 2022. The bill requires NASEM to publish online a report within 12 months of the agreement containing the study results; research and data gaps; policy recommendations to promote high-quality recovery housing; recommended effectiveness metrics and mechanisms to collect data on them; a summary of allegations, assertions, or legal actions by governments or non-governmental organizations regarding the opening and operation of recovery housing. It then requires studies to fill those research and data gaps.

Rep. Levin has repeatedly pressed for stronger oversight of sober living homes. Last year, Levin criticized the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for failing to prosecute any cases under Section 8122 of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, a sweeping measure to address our nation’s opioid crisis that also prohibits the abusive practice known as patient brokering in the addiction treatment and recovery industries. He also secured report language in Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations directing DOJ to fully enforce Section 8122.