House passes opioid epidemic legislation

Published 2:27 pm Thursday, June 21, 2018

From staff reports

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 5735 by a vote of 230 to 173. A Transitional Housing for Recovery in Viable Environments (THRIVE) Act, is a bill which was introduced by Rep. Andy Barr, and is a piece of legislation designed to expand evidence-based models of transitional housing in order to help those in recovery maintain sobriety, gain valuable skills and job training, and obtain employment to eventually transition back into society to lead independent lives.

“A recent study found that one-in-five Americans personally know someone who has been addicted to opioids,” Rep. Barr said in a prepared statement. “Congress has the unique and critical responsibility of providing solutions to our families, friends and neighbors. My legislation would focus on long-term recovery by supporting successful evidence-based models of transitional housing similar to many programs in the sixth-district.  I’m proud that my legislation was included in a package of bills that will help Kentuckians lead more productive and meaningful lives free from addiction.”

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According to Barr, people completing an in-patient rehabilitation program or period of incarceration will find themselves with limited long-term housing options, and could possibly then be forced into a situation where they are surrounded by individuals who are still using illegal substances they recently went to jail or rehab for.

The THRIVE Act, Barr said, creates a pilot program to allocate Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers to transitional housing non-profits with evidence-based models of recovery and life-skills training. Rather than administering vouchers through public housing authorities, vouchers would be given directly to qualified non-profits in regions of the country with the highest rates of opioid-related deaths.

This legislation was inspired by successful recovery organizations in the sixth-district and informed by hearings in the House Financial Services Committee with discussions from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson.

Roger Fox, graduate of a Lexington transitional housing program said, “I am grateful for having the option of going to a transitional housing program, like Shepherds House, after making parole. When I first arrived, I didn’t know how to be responsible, pay bills, and most importantly, stay sober. But Shepherds House changed that for me. I learned how to be accountable and a father to my two kids. Congressman Barr’s legislation will give more people like me the chance to earn their freedom back. Today, I am proud to help those overcome the same struggle as the Program Director of an Intensive Outpatient Program at Shepherds House.”

The THRIVE Act will now be referred to the Senate for further consideration.

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