A House committee passed a bill Monday to regulate sober living homes after hearing testimony from Prescott residents about problems the homes are creating in their communities.
Rep. Noel Campbell, R-Prescott, is pushing new standards for sober living homes even as Gov. Doug Ducey vows to cut regulations and the Legislature passes measures to take control away from cities and towns.
Campbell’s measure would allow cities, towns and counties to register sober living homes, adopt standards and set management qualifications.
Sober living homes are the final step to recovery for many former drug addicts who are looking for a supportive and structured place to live after leaving in-patient care or lockup.
Campbell says Prescott has become saturated with sober living homes and authorities need his measure to deal with them. It’s not clear how many sober living homes are in Prescott because the facilities don’t have to register, he said.
“We have no idea what’s happening in these houses,” Campbell said. “It’s not a Democrat or Republican issue. It is a health, safety and wellness issue.”
The Committee on County and Municipal Affairs voted to pass House Bill 2107 on a 5 to 3 vote. The measure still requires a full vote in the House before going to the Senate.
Prescott residents, sober living owners and former drug addicts provided testimony during the meeting.
Eric Jordan, a resident who retired in Prescott, said he lives beside a sober living home whose members have violent outbursts and toss their cigarette butts over the home’s balcony railing. Other residents complained about increases in crime and homelessness in addition to dropping property values.
The measure’s opponents included several sober living homes and the Arizona Recovery Housing Association, a statewide association that sets standards for recovery services.
Theresa Ulmer, who lobbies for the Arizona Recovery Housing Association, said the bill would violate federal standards that consider recovering drug addicts a protected class.
“This bill discriminates and wants to pull out a certain group of people and treat them differently,” Ulmer said.
Owners of the sober living home said the regulations would add an additional cost they can’t afford.
“The problem I see here representative, is that the people in this room do not understand the recovery process or how recovery homes operate,” said Thomas Brown, who runs a sober living home.
Campbell ran a similar bill to regulate sober living homes through the Department of Health Services last session. It failed to pass in the Senate.