How to Open a Sober Living Home

by Michelle Dwyer; Updated September 26, 2017
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Sober living homes provide recovering substance abusers a safe place to live after treatment. They also provide social workers, case managers and other health-care professionals another alternative when planning a post-treatment program for a patient, as these environments decrease the opportunities for an addict to relapse. When you open a sober living home, you don't just open a business: You give somebody a fighting chance.

Explaining Sober Living

Residing in a sober living home allows a recovering addict protection from the influence of drugs and alcohol. Sober living homes are not treatment centers; they are considered supportive recovery homes. Sober living homes can be single-family residences, duplexes or multiunit complexes. The daily activities in the home will probably include mandatory in-home attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings and support group meetings. Residents have some freedom to come and go, but they are required to sign in and out. They might also be required to stay in the company of a fellow sober living resident when away from the home. Sober living homes are usually staffed around the clock by a house manager. Curfews are common.

Learn the Law

When you open a business that could affect the surrounding area, as a sober living home might do, you might have to apply for a conditional use permit, or CUP. Federal fair housing laws and the Americans With Disabilities Act do not allow discrimination against people simply because of a drug dependency as long as they are not continuing to use drugs and alcohol drug, so your local government cannot deny your CUP or reasonable accommodations request based on your residents' addictions. Sober living homes can accommodate between six and 15 residents, but multiunit complexes can house more. Contact your local government for your CUP application and to learn more about its zoning process and local laws.

Get Training

Take a course in opening a sober living home. Organizations such as the Sober Living Network provide classes covering vital information on fair-housing laws, landlord-tenant law and government regulations. These classes also cover operational policies such as supervising residents, admission criteria and house rules that include curfews and chore requirements. The SLN will also help you narrow down a target population to serve.

Reach Your Revenue

Residents are typically responsible for paying their own rent. How much you charge will depend on the services you offer. For example, if you offer fitness training or yoga classes, you might charge more. Rent at a sober living home usually ranges from $250 to $1,500 per month; homes that cater to affluent residents can charge up to $3,500. If you want to help the less fortunate, consider opening up a nonprofit home. As a nonprofit entity, you might qualify for grants and other funding. The Small Business Administration can give you guidance on applying for 501(c)(3) status.

About the Author

Michelle Dwyer is a U.S. Army veteran writing fiction and nonfiction since 2003. She specializes in business, careers, leadership, military affairs and organizational change and behavior. Dwyer received an MBA from Tarleton State University/Texas A&M Central Texas and an MFA in creative writing from National University in La Jolla, Calif.

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