A column which ran in the Valley News last July 8 dealt with the issue of sober living homes and generated some interesting reader comments. (Check out the Armchair Activist archive at http://myvalleynews.com/armchair?archive).
A follow-up seems in order, as important legislation has been considered since that article ran.
Currently, California law treats sober-living homes of six or fewer residents like single-family homes. They do not need a license as long as they do not provide counseling and detoxification services.
SB 992 (Sen. Wiggins) sought to create a category of licensed facilities known as Adult Recovery Maintenance Facilities.
Currently, these facilities (sober living homes) are not subject to any state requirements. SB 992 sought to impose regulatory structure through licensing.
There is much debate between groups that would have sober living homes be regulated and those who would allow the current situation to continue.
The Sober Living Network/Coalition (SLNC) of Los Angeles supported Governor Schwarzenegger’s decision to veto the bill last fall.
But some organizations, including the rival Sober Living Homes Association, believe that the homes used by the SLNC are operated by unscrupulous persons who skirt local ordinances regarding the number of residents allowed in a dwelling, collect much more money than is required to operate the facility and have little control or interest over what happens in the homes.
SB 992 would have addressed those alleged abuses. Approved by the legislature last summer, Sen. Patricia Wiggins’ (D-Santa Rosa) bill would have required the state Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs to license Adult Recovery Maintenance Facilities (ARMFs) and apply licensure requirements to sober living homes.
The Wiggins bill would have:
• Defined ARMFs as any facility whose rules, peer-led groups, staff activities or other structured operations are directed toward maintenance of sobriety for adults in early recovery from substance abuse.
• Prohibited (beginning Jan. 1, 2011) state or local agencies from referring any person to an alcohol or drug abuse recovery or treatment facility that is not licensed.
In short, SB 992 would have required sober living homes of any size to strictly adhere to standards set by the state and would have limited the ability of those who are in the business to make a profit while providing little in the way of professional care for residents.
In a letter to Governor Schwarzenegger lamenting his decision to veto SB 992, the group says that the SLNC houses addicts in conditions not conducive to recovery and is profit-, not recovery-, oriented.
Dave Reynolds is a political consultant/writer currently residing in Menifee. During the 1990s he served as chief of staff to the State Assembly Representative from the 66th District.
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