House Passes Opioid Legislation that Includes Housing Pilot Program to Assist People Recovering From Substance-Abuse Disorders

The House passed on September 28 a package of opioid legislation (H.R. 6) that includes a new pilot program to provide housing assistance to individuals recovering from substance-use disorders. The bill authorizes Congress to provide funding for the pilot through the Community Development Block Grant program. The House approved the bill by a vote of 393-8. The Senate may vote on the package as early as this week, after which it would go to President Trump for his signature.

HUD would distribute the funds based on a formula that prioritizes states with high rates of overdose deaths and, to a lesser extent, high rates of unemployment and low rates of work participation. Program participants would receive housing assistance for up to two years or until permanent housing assistance is available. Program funding can be used for different types of housing assistance to provide options to help people meet their housing needs.

The bill does not include the “Transitional Housing for Recovery in Viable Environments Demonstration Program (THRIVE) Act” (HR 5735). The THRIVE Act, introduced by Representative Andy Barr (R-KY), would divert 10,000 vouchers, or $83 million, away from the Housing Choice Voucher program to pay for transitional recovery housing for people with substance-use disorders. On June 12, NLIHC sent to lawmakers a letter signed by 29 national housing, homelessness, behavioral health services, and recovery housing organizations opposing the THRIVE Act because it would lengthen affordable housing waiting lists for low income families, seniors, people experiencing homelessness, and people leaving substance-use treatment or recovery housing.