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Sober/Transitional Living Facility Resources - Washington

Frequently Asked Questions


1.  What kinds of licensure or certification is required to operate a chemical dependency treatment program?

Persons, partnerships and corporations, or other legal entities intending to provide chemical dependency treatment services in a residential setting require a license to operate. Residential treatment facilities are physical locations from which chemical dependency treatment services are provided 24 hours a day. Read More

2.  What types of chemical dependency services are offered in Washington?

Treatment services are offered through residential and outpatient treatment facilities which provide evaluation and treatment or evaluation and referral of any individual with a chemical dependency disorder. All of the following types of service providers require certification from the Department of Social and Health Services. Read More

3.  What does it mean to be 'licensed,' 'certified' or 'accredited' in this industry?

Licensing means that the facility has been granted a written notice conveying to the public that the state regulatory agency has issued its permission to operate authorized services. These services can only be delivered with the advance and continuous authorization of a designated government agency to ensure protection of public health, safety, and welfare. Read More

Recovery Residences


4.  What is a recovery home?

Recovery Homes are transitional alcohol and drug free housing with rules, peer-led groups, activities and/or other structured operations which are directed toward maintenance of sobriety for persons who exhibit treatment resistance, relapse potential and/or lack of suitable recovery living environments or who recently have completed substance abuse treatment services or who may be receiving such treatment services at another licensed facility. Read More

5.  Which kind of residential arrangements qualify as drug and alcohol free housing?

Drug and alcohol free housing requires a rental agreement and means a dwelling in which each of the dwelling units on the premises is occupied or held for occupancy by at least one tenant who is a recovering alcoholic or drug addict and is participating in a program of recovery. Read More

6.  Do we need a license or certification to open a recovery home?

Recovery homes are currently not Licensed by the Department of Health (DoH) as a Residential Treatment Facility nor are recovery homes certified by the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) as a Chemical Dependency Service Provider. Read More

7.  In the absence of licensing, how can recovery homes demonstrate their commitment to meeting minimum quality standards?

Sober homes may devise their own quality standards. Read More

8.  What kinds of services can a recovery home offer?

Recovery Homes provide a structured alcohol and drug free environment for congregate living that offers regularly scheduled peer-led or community gatherings (self-help groups, etc.). Read More

Zoning and Land Use

9.  What are the protections afforded by federal law to small group homes used for the purpose of sustained recovery?

Recovery homes and other transitional living facilities for those recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction are generally subject to local zoning laws and regulations. However, local zoning and land use laws that treat groups of unrelated persons with disabilities less favorably than similar groups of unrelated persons without disabilities violate federal housing statutes. Read More

10.  Can local governments put special restrictions on recovery homes?

Recovery homes in some communities have found growing efforts to regulate them by local ordinance, including registration requirements, concentration (spacing) limits, and other requirements. Read More

11.  What other aspects must I consider before choosing a location for our recovery home?

In siting a recovery home, attention must be paid to potential hostility from neighbors. While federal and state law may protect the right to operate recovery homes of six or fewer in any residential community depending upon a variety of circumstances, operators must be prepared to deal with the stress and expense of combatting hostile neighbors and potentially hostile cities in litigation. Read More

Tenant's Rights and Responsibilities

12.  What would our obligations to tenants be?

The landlord provides a drug and alcohol free environment, covering all tenants, employees, staff, agents of the landlord, and guests. Read More

13.  What kind of agreement must we ask our clients to sign?

Any agreement residents sign must comply with landlord and tenant laws of Washington. Legal counsel should be consulted regarding terms of leases. Read More

14. Can we insist on drug tests and searches?

Rules and regulations may be imposed on residents, but legal counsel should be consulted before including specific provisions for drug tests and searches. Read More

15.  Can a recovery home bill insurance for required and/or random drug testing?

In order for a drug test to be reimbursed by insurance, it must be ordered by a physician based on examination of the resident.
Read More

16.  Can we make clients' obligations contractually enforceable?

Yes, as long as the obligations are enforceable under Washington law in general, and the law relating to landlord and tenants. Read More

Governance and Staffing

17.  What kind of ownership and staffing structures are common with these types of residential arrangements?

A recovery housing facility may be structured as a nonprofit corporation, a for-profit corporation, limited liability company, partnership, or a sole owner arrangement. There will be a landlord and a residential manager who may be on or off-site to monitor compliance with the terms of the rental agreement. Read More

18.  Are there any other organizations where we could find more information?

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
http://www.samhsa.gov/ Read More

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