Roundtable Forum Summary
On April 12, 2023, the Center for Ethics in Society, in partnership with the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority, hosted the Recovery Housing Roundtable Forum. This event brought together stakeholders, as well as local and national experts, to discuss the importance of recovery housing in the Granite State.
The forum was designed to facilitate honest community dialogue about local housing needs, as part of the Center’s Housing We Need initiative.
Here are some of the key findings from the roundtable discussions:
What are the barriers to recovery housing in communities throughout New Hampshire?
Fears and Misconceptions: Lack of understanding about recovery homes, how they operate, and how they are beneficial for communities can lead to misconceptions and stigma. Some people, for instance, incorrectly think recovery home residents are active drug users, or that they put extra stress on first responders. These misconceptions can lead to stigma and a NIMBY attitude.
Code Requirements: Approval processes are lengthy and confusing. People often don’t know where to start or what code requirements or local land use regulations exist (minimum parking spots, sprinklers, etc.)
Expense: Land and infrastructure can be expensive, and there is little funding for recovery homes. Plus, some building and fire code requirements require expensive modifications.
Lack of Coordination: Stakeholders, including city officials, do not always communicate well with each other, and with the public, about requirements, processes, etc. for approval of recovery homes.
Transportation and Jobs: Especially in rural areas, it is hard to find employment and to get to jobs (due to a general lack of public transportation). It can also be hard to access local services.
Gender Imbalance: Women have fewer options for recovery homes; there are fewer available to them, and most aren’t suited for families and child-care.
What are some solutions to overcoming these barriers and for promoting recovery housing in our communities?
Education: Stakeholders (communities, planners, municipal officials, building/fire officials, etc.) need better education about the truths of recovering housing and need to develop a shared language that is defined and accepted across sectors. This could come in the form of public discussions, a documentary, a model/starter kit for communities to follow, or a task force that educates and supports other communities in their acceptance and creation of recovery housing.
Certification: Certification of recovery homes by nationally recognized organizations can reassure communities that recovery homes are safe and well-run.
Data: Data showing the impact of recovery housing on communities, or the cost of incarceration versus the cost of a recovery home, should be collected and made accessible.
Code Flexibility: Municipal officials need to think creatively about how recovery housing can meet building and fire code standards.
Funding: Considering the high costs of land and infrastructure, there should be more funding opportunities (including for for-profit recovery homes).
Communication and Collaboration: There needs to be more communication and collaboration between local, state, and national leaders. City officials, for example, need to communicate so they all receive and share correct information. This will also help build relationships between officials and recovery home operators/residents.
Transportation: Recovery housing stakeholders need to find ways to offer transportation for residents of recovery homes to reach jobs and services.
Variety: Recovery homes will be more accessible to people if they are allowed or encouraged to follow different models, including offering more options for women and families.
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