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Speaking up

I provided testimony in front of the Ohio State Senate Housing Committee this fall, advocating in support of residents and recovery housing. Recovery residences are acknowledged as being an essential component on the continuum of care for the treatment of substance use disorder. Senator Ingram asked the question of a fellow operator that I have been pondering since: "Is recovery housing an issue for the Housing Committe or is it a Substance Use Disorder Treatment issue?"

The The Department of Health and Urban Development operates the Continuum of Care Program. It promotes communitywide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness by providing funding for efforts by nonprofit providers and State and local governments and promoting access to and effect utilization of mainstream programs by homeless individuals and families. Our residents in recovery housing somehow do not fit the eligibility.

Ohio Medicaid will reimburse for inpatient and expensive treatments for substance use disorder, but does not reimbursement for Recovery Housing as part of the continuum of care.

Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) is a formula grant administered by the Center for Mental Health Services, a component of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Prior to inpatient treatment, many of our residents were eligible for Clermont's PATH Outreach.  Most of our residents are coming straight from inpatient treatment programs...many were homeless or "couch surfing" prior to treatment and more than half are on parole/probation or involved in drug court. Clermont's PATH Outreach can pay for 30 days of housing for homeless persons or persons at high risk for homelessness. Once established in treatment, however, assistance ends.

Furthermore, we move these same adults who previously were homeless into our home directly from inpatient treatment facilities. They often have no money, no income, and only the clothes on their back. No subsidies exist for this. We are hopeful that funds from the SUPPORT Act will eventually assist with rental subsidy but today we are committed to providing the first six weeks of rent free to give residents time to find a job and get their first paycheck. We support them, thanks to our generous donors, with assistance for basic clothing and perishable items not found in area food pantries for the first month while they find at least part time work.

And so, to me, the answer to Senator Ingram's question is BOTH and NEITHER. Recovery housing is BOTH affordable housing for low-income citizens issue and is an essential component on the continuum of care for persons in treatment for substance use disorder. However, NEITHER Ohio or Federal Departments of Housing and Urban Development or Ohio Medicaid support recovery housing nearly enough.  Until public policies catch up to the need, we ask you to please help us to continue providing this through your donations!

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