House Subcommittee Holds Field Hearing on Housing and Opioid Recovery

The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance held a field hearing titled “The Role of Federal Housing and Community Development Programs to Support Opioid and Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery” on August 16. Representative Andy Barr (R-KY) spoke about legislation he introduced, the “Transitional Housing for Recovery in Viable Environments Demonstration Program (THRIVE) Act” (HR 5735), that 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. The bill passed in the House by a vote of 230-173 and now awaits consideration in the Senate. NLIHC opposes the bill because it provides no additional funding and would lengthen affordable housing waiting lists for low income families, seniors, people experiencing homelessness, and people leaving substance-use treatment or recovery housing.

While H.R. 5735 aims to provide housing resources for people entering recovery housing for substance use disorders, it would divert scarce resources away from the lowest income people. Additionally, by allowing entities that provide drug treatment services, not public housing authorities, to administer the housing vouchers, HR 5735 would make it difficult for HUD to properly oversee and monitor the program. Moreover, HUD is not the appropriate federal agency to establish standards for substance-use recovery. Rather, the Department of Health and Human Services should lead on this effort.

The bill also allows service providers to impose arbitrary and counterproductive time limits on recipients of the vouchers. In his written testimony, witness Jerod Thomas of Shepherd’s House, a transitional residential treatment program for men, recommended applying time limits as well as work and other self-sufficiency requirements on housing assistance received by people recovering from substance use disorders (SUDs). But such time limits and other requirements would only cut people off from the very housing benefits that make it possible for them to maintain their sobriety post-treatment.  His testimony also incorrectly states that people recovering from SUDs or alcohol addiction, or who have a history of criminal conduct, are not eligible to receive housing vouchers.

Learn more about the hearing at: