Advocates for Peer-Supported Recovery  
 
 

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Bill Lauer's Remarks at the April 21 Listening Day

Posted by info@friendsofrecoverywi.org on April 22, 2016 at 9:45 AM Comments comments (1)

Hello, I am Bill Lauer. . I am a person in long term Recovery. I am the founder of Friends of Recovery WI, which advocates for recovery housing and I earn my living being a landlord. I understand the housing issue. The term “sober house” or Sober Living’ is an umbrella term that has come to mean a lot of different things. SO I want to clear that up first. I use the term “recovery residence” to describe a residence where people self-identify as being in recovery from addiction as the reason for living in the residence. These people are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act for reasons more closely aligned with the mission of the Department of Health Services.

This is different from a reentry house where sobriety is a condition of supervision and the focus is on returning to society after incarceration. These are more closely aligned with the mission of the Department of Corrections and are not protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Around the state, re-entry residences are popping up, calling themselves “sober living” which causes confusion between the two types of housing. The recently introduced Assembly Bill 889, sought to define “sober living residences” in statute as different from reentry programs, CBRF’s and halfway houses. Thank You, Senator Miller for co-sponsoring that bill. The easiest way for the state to discourage operation of poorly run sober residences is to properly define what we want in statutes. That will end the confusion between recovery and reentry housing and close the door on bad actors. With that said, we are here to talk about Recovery residences.

Madison is the epicenter of “Recovery residences”. This was intentionally created about 10 years ago to develop a model for the state to follow. Currently there are about 140 beds in Madison that fit the peer run, peer financed, model. I would venture to say there are more Recovery beds here than there are treatment beds. An informal survey of these residences revealed that about 25% of the people are in drug court, 40% in recovery from Heroin addiction, and nearly 1/2 have spent time in jail!

This clearly points out that Recovery residences already support people before their addiction takes them to prison, and in that way, needs to be viewed as a preventative measure to reduce prison and jail populations, whereas reentry focuses on after incarceration needs only.

 

Peer Run Recovery Residences have been the “silent partner” in Dane county’s programing results. Since all program outcomes increase significantly with stable housing, WE ask Dane county to fund a Recovery housing coordinator to bridge the gaps between services and housing options. A little money spent to strengthen this network now, will save more lives later.

 

At the state level we see similar patterns of need and people served. Residences are popping up all over the place to deal with the Heroin epidemic. They provide a layer of support needed to serve that population before they might be ready for more affordable, long term, peer run recovery. My best guess is that there are about 300 recovery beds available. The peer run, consumer financed model is the most easily expandable to meet the needs of the people in the state of Wisconsin, especially in rural areas where treatment resources are scarce.

I would ask that DHS to conduct a needs assessment of the number of beds needed in the State of Wisconsin to better inform the legislature when a new version of AB889 comes up next session. Recovery Residences save lives at a much lower cost to taxpayers than the revolving door of treatment programs.

One last thing, People coming out of sober living, be it from the recovery side or the reentry side are often times met with barriers to housing for many years. I ask the Attorney General to work with me to pull together people affected by this, along with landlords groups and housing advocates to better understand and implement HUD’s position on the Use of Criminal Records by Providers of Housing as expressed in their letter dated April 4, 2016. HUD’s position offers new hope for people fighting the long term stigma of addiction. And since rental practices fall under ATCP 134 it is within your purview to be proactive in shaping the rental housing industry’s understanding and practices regarding this.

Thank You

 

 

Paul Molloy's Testimony to the Joint Finance Committee

Posted by info@friendsofrecoverywi.org on March 12, 2016 at 7:35 AM Comments comments (1)

Oxford House, Inc. • 1010 Wayne Avenue, Suite 300 • Silver Spring, Maryland 20910

A 501[c][3] organization listed on the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices [NREPP]

www.oxfordhouse.org • Tel. 301-587-2916

Statement of J. Paul Molloy

Cofounder and CEO of Oxford House, Inc.


Oxford House, Inc., the national 501[c][3] umbrella organization for all individual Oxford

Houses, is very interested in developing a partnership with Wisconsin to establish and maintain a

larger network of Oxford Houses in the State of Wisconsin.


Bill Lauer, a leader of the Oxford House™ movement in Wisconsin, has testified before your

Committee and so you know something about Oxford House™ – the only self-run, self-supported

recovery home network listed on the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices

[NREPP]. There are now over 1,850 Houses with over 14,500 recovery beds. We are in 44 states -

including the 20 Oxford Houses in Wisconsin that have 162 recovery beds.


I am a fortunate recovering alcoholic who has a happy-ending story. I was a ‘has been’ in that I had

been Republican Counsel to the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee but alcoholism caught up with me

and, in 1975, I found myself separated from my wife and living in a county-run halfway house that was

closing. Two things changed my life: (1) the residents of the closing halfway house decided to run the

halfway house themselves, creating the first Oxford House; and (2) while in the halfway house I was

hired as a Republican Counsel to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. I held that job for six

years and then joined a major law firm. In 1988, my wife and I remarried and I began the process of

encouraging the spread of Oxford Houses because I knew they worked.


Oxford Houses provide the time, peer support and safe living environment necessary for many

recovering alcoholics, drug addicts and those with co-occurring mental illness to change behavior to

become productive citizens and stay clean and sober. Because OHI has developed a disciplined

system of democratic operation and self-support, individual Oxford Houses – once established – stay

on track. Moreover, the houses are rented real estate that stays on the tax roles just like it would if

rented to an ordinary family. The key to quality control is the Oxford House Charter that is required

for any recovery group wanting to utilize the Oxford House system of operations and the Oxford

House name. An OHI charter has three conditions: [1] the group must be democratically self-run using

the process and practices contained in the Oxford House Manual©; [2] the group must be financially

self-supporting; and [3] the group must immediately expel any resident who returns to using alcohol or

illicit drugs. Last year more than 30,000 individuals lived in an Oxford House in this country and only

16.7% were asked to leave because of relapse.


Two factors enable Oxford House™ to expand readily: (1) the availability of a small start-up loan to

enable groups to rent an ordinary single-family house; and (2) availability of access to on-site technical

assistance from trained outreach workers who teach the time-tested system of operation. OHI is good

at providing both and has contracts with 20 states to do just that. We would like a contract with

Wisconsin where Bill has made a good start but needs help to develop more Oxford Houses.

Our FY 2014 Annual Report is downloadable from our website: www.oxfordhouse.org. It describes

how OHI develops strong statewide networks of Oxford Houses. More than 20 years ago we opened

the door on solid third-party recovery research and the proof is in. Oxford Houses work and the cost of

expansion is very low.


I urge the Committee to support funding for further development of Oxford Houses in Wisconsin.

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