S T A T E O F N E W Y O R K
S. 4697 A. 6791
2013-2014 Regular Sessions
S E N A T E - A S S E M B L Y
April 18, 2013
IN SENATE -- Introduced by Sens. ZELDIN, LAVALLE -- read twice and
ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on
Alcoholism and Drug Abuse
IN ASSEMBLY -- Introduced by M. of A. HENNESSEY, THIELE, ENGLEBRIGHT,
RAMOS, HOOPER -- read once and referred to the Committee on Alcoholism
and Drug Abuse
AN ACT to amend the general business law, in relation to improving the
operation of sober living homes and to establish and enforce regu-
lations pertaining to such homes; to amend the mental hygiene law, in
relation to the certification of sober living homes; and to amend the
social services law, in relation to sober living homes
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:
Section 1. Declaration of findings and legislative intent. The legis-
lature hereby finds and declares that there is an urgent need to improve
the operation of sober living homes. A sober living home is intended to
provide affordable, drug and alcohol free environments for persons who
are enrolled in out-patient treatment or recovering from a drug or alco-
hol addiction. The mission of a sober living home is to promote recovery
and allow individuals to become self supporting. In order to meet this
mission, residents must be afforded a safe, sanitary, and secure envi-
The legislature further finds that far too many sober living home
operators fail to provide the atmosphere necessary for residents. While
there certainly are some well-run sober living homes that truly aim to
assist those in recovery, many of these homes are often overcrowded,
drug and alcohol infested, unsanitary, and incompetently managed. In
order to ensure that appropriate living standards are being maintained,
regulations pertaining to the operation of sober living homes must be
established and enforced.
The legislature further finds and declares that it is the intent of
the legislature to prevent recidivism, injury, and death among persons
seeking housing in a sober living home by establishing and enforcing
EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
[ ] is old law to be omitted.
S. 4697 2 A. 6791
operational standards. By ensuring that appropriate standards are estab-
lished and enforced, communities which host a sober living home will
also benefit. By authorizing the state to certify establishments meeting
the criteria necessary to provide an appropriate environment, and by
allowing localities to inspect the establishments, safe and effective
sober living homes can continue to improve people's lives.
The legislature has further learned that many communities in Suffolk
county are burdened with a disproportionate share of poorly-operated
sober living homes. Instituting a pilot certification program in Suffolk
county, administered by the office of alcoholism and substance abuse
services, will ensure that sober living homes maintain an appropriate
environment without disrupting the quality of life in the surrounding
S 2. The general business law is amended by adding a new section 210
to read as follows:
S 210. SOBER LIVING HOMES. 1. A "SOBER LIVING HOME" SHALL MEAN A HOME
LOCATED IN SUFFOLK COUNTY THAT IS OPERATED, WHETHER FOR PROFIT OR NOT,
FOR TRANSITIONAL RECOVERY PURPOSES OF INDIVIDUALS AFFLICTED WITH ALCOHOL
OR SUBSTANCE ABUSE DEPENDENCIES. SUCH HOMES SHALL HAVE, AS ITS PRIMARY
PURPOSE, THE REINTEGRATION OF SUCH AFFLICTED PERSONS INTO SOCIETY WITH
ACCOMPANYING MONITORING AND SUPPORT, AND SHALL PROVIDE A SAFE, SUPPORT-
IVE, DRUG FREE LIVING ENVIRONMENT. HOMES ESTABLISHED AS "HALF-WAY HOUSES
OR HOMES" AND/OR "RECOVERY HOUSES OR HOMES" SHALL BE INCLUDED IN THIS
2. AN OWNER, OPERATOR, OR LANDLORD, MAY NOT HOLD THEMSELVES OUT TO BE
OR ADVERTISE TO BE A "SOBER LIVING HOME" IN SUFFOLK COUNTY UNLESS THEY
ARE CERTIFIED BY, AND REMAIN IN GOOD STANDING WITH, THE NEW YORK STATE
OFFICE OF ALCOHOLISM AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE SERVICES.
3. ANY VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION SHALL RESULT IN A FINE IN THE AMOUNT
OF TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS.
S 3. The mental hygiene law is amended by adding a new article 21 to
read as follows:
CERTIFICATION OF SOBER LIVING HOMES
SECTION 21.01 AUTHORITY.
21.05 CERTIFICATION PROCESS.
21.07 CERTIFICATION FEE.
21.09 REVOCATION OF CERTIFICATES.
21.15 EXCLUSIVITY OF SOBER LIVING HOME TITLE.
21.17 LISTING OF CERTIFIED SOBER LIVING HOMES.
21.19 TOLL-FREE HOTLINE.
S 21.01 AUTHORITY.
THE LEGISLATURE HEREBY DECLARES THAT ALCOHOLISM, SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND
CHEMICAL DEPENDENCE POSE MAJOR HEALTH AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS FOR INDIVID-
UALS. IT HAS BEEN PROVEN THAT TRANSITIONAL LIVING ENVIRONMENTS CAN HELP
TO PREVENT RECIDIVISM AFTER AN INDIVIDUAL HAS CEASED USING ALCOHOL,
ILLEGAL SUBSTANCES AND CHEMICALS. THE TRAGIC, CUMULATIVE AND OFTEN FATAL
CONSEQUENCES OF RECIDIVISM CAN BE PREVENTED THROUGH THE ESTABLISHMENT OF
QUALITY SOBER LIVING HOMES.
THE LEGISLATURE RECOGNIZES LOCALLY IMPLEMENTED TRANSITIONAL LIVING
PROGRAMS AS AN EFFECTIVE AVENUE TO AVERT RECIDIVISM. THE PRIMARY GOALS
OF REHABILITATION AND RECOVERY ARE TO RESTORE SOCIAL, FAMILY, LIFESTYLE,
VOCATIONAL, AND ECONOMIC SUPPORTS BY STABILIZING AN INDIVIDUAL'S PHYS-
S. 4697 3 A. 6791
ICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL FUNCTIONING. BY ENSURING THAT SOBER LIVING HOMES
ARE OFFERING THE ENVIRONMENT NECESSARY FOR SUCH SUCCESS, POSITIVE TREAT-
MENT OUTCOMES CAN BE FURTHER ATTAINED.
THE STATE OF NEW YORK AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO
COORDINATE THE DELIVERY OF ALCOHOLISM AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE SERVICES,
THROUGH THE ENTIRE PROCESS OF RECOVERY. TO ACCOMPLISH THESE OBJECTIVES,
THE LEGISLATURE DECLARES THAT THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A PILOT PROGRAM FOR
CERTIFICATION OF SOBER LIVING HOMES IN SUFFOLK COUNTY WILL PROVIDE AN
INTEGRATED FRAMEWORK TO FURTHER PLAN, OVERSEE, AND REGULATE THE STATE'S
PREVENTION AND TREATMENT NETWORK. IN RECOGNITION OF THE GROWING TRENDS
AND INCIDENCES OF RECIDIVISM, THIS OVERSIGHT ALLOWS THE STATE TO RESPOND
TO THE RECOVERY NEEDS OF INDIVIDUALS SUFFERING FROM ALCOHOLISM,
SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND CHEMICAL DEPENDENCY.
S 21.03 DEFINITION.
FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION, A "SOBER LIVING HOME" SHALL MEAN A
HOME LOCATED IN SUFFOLK COUNTY THAT IS OPERATED, WHETHER FOR PROFIT OR
NOT, FOR TRANSITIONAL RECOVERY PURPOSES OF INDIVIDUALS AFFLICTED WITH
ALCOHOL OR SUBSTANCE ABUSE DEPENDENCIES. SUCH HOMES SHALL HAVE, AS ITS
PRIMARY PURPOSE, THE REINTEGRATION OF SUCH AFFLICTED PERSONS INTO SOCIE-
TY WITH ACCOMPANYING MONITORING AND SUPPORT, AND SHALL PROVIDE A SAFE,
SUPPORTIVE, DRUG FREE LIVING ENVIRONMENT. HOMES ESTABLISHED AS "HALF-WAY
HOUSES OR HOMES" AND/OR "RECOVERY HOUSES OR HOMES" SHALL BE INCLUDED IN
S 21.05 CERTIFICATION PROCESS.
(A) THE OFFICE SHALL PROMULGATE RULES AND REGULATIONS NECESSARY FOR
THE IMPLEMENTATION OF A PILOT PROGRAM FOR CERTIFICATION OF SOBER LIVING
HOMES IN SUFFOLK COUNTY IN COOPERATION WITH THE SUFFOLK GROUP HOME OVER-
SIGHT BOARD AND THE SUFFOLK COUNTY EXECUTIVE. PROVIDED HOWEVER, THAT
ANY RULES OR REGULATIONS ADOPTED MUST INCLUDE A PROVISION REQUIRING AN
INSPECTION OF THE PROPOSED SOBER LIVING HOME PRIOR TO THE COMPLETION OF
THE CERTIFICATION PROCESS.
(B) IN ADDITION TO ANY STANDARDS PROMULGATED BY THE OFFICE, OPERATORS
OF SOBER LIVING HOMES SHALL, AT A MINIMUM:
(1) OPERATE IN ACCORDANCE WITH ALL FEDERAL, STATE, AND LOCAL BUILDING
CODES AND ORDINANCES TO THE EXTENT PRACTICABLE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE
FEDERAL FAIR HOUSING ACT.
(2) BE OPERATED OR MANAGED BY PEOPLE WITH AT LEAST TWO YEARS EMPLOY-
MENT EXPERIENCE WITH PEOPLE WITH SUBSTANCE ABUSE DISORDERS. OPERATORS
MAY NOT HAVE ANY PRIOR FELONY CONVICTIONS.
(3) BE AFFILIATED WITH A TREATMENT PROGRAM APPROVED BY THE OFFICE OF
ALCOHOLISM AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE SERVICES.
(4) ESTABLISH AND ENFORCE A ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY FOR ALCOHOLISM AND
(5) PROVIDE FURNISHED LIVING SPACES IN ACCORDANCE WITH ALL LOCAL
ZONING AND HOUSING STANDARDS.
(C) SUCH CERTIFICATE SHALL SPECIFY:
(1) THE NAME OF THE HOLDER OF THE CERTIFICATE.
(2) THE ADDRESS TO WHICH THE CERTIFICATE APPLIES.
(3) THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF PERSONS TO RESIDE IN THE HOME.
(D) SUCH CERTIFICATE SHALL BE PUBLICLY DISPLAYED AT THE HOME.
(E) CERTIFICATES ARE NON-TRANSFERABLE TO NEW OWNERSHIP OR OTHER
(F) NOTHING IN THIS SECTION SHALL RELIEVE CERTIFICATE HOLDERS FROM
COMPLYING WITH OTHER PROVISIONS OF THIS ARTICLE, NOR SHALL POWERS OR
DUTIES OF THE OFFICE GRANTED OR IMPOSED BY OTHER SECTIONS OF THIS ARTI-
CLE BE CIRCUMSCRIBED BY THIS SECTION. FURTHER, NOTHING IN THIS SECTION
S. 4697 4 A. 6791
SHALL RELIEVE CERTIFICATE HOLDERS FROM COMPLYING WITH OTHER APPLICABLE
PROVISIONS OF SUFFOLK COUNTY LAW OR REGULATION WHICH DO NOT VIOLATE THIS
S 21.07 CERTIFICATION FEE.
THE OFFICE IS HEREBY AUTHORIZED TO IMPOSE A REASONABLE FEE TO APPLY
FOR A CERTIFICATE. THE OFFICE IS ALSO AUTHORIZED TO COLLECT A BIANNUAL
RE-CERTIFICATION FEE OF FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS FROM APPLICANTS AND HOLDERS
OF SOBER LIVING HOME CERTIFICATES IN ORDER TO IMPLEMENT THE CERTIF-
ICATION PROCESS AND OVERSEE COMPLIANCE THEREWITH. CERTIFICATION MUST BE
RENEWED EVERY TWO YEARS. ONE-HALF OF THE REVENUE GENERATED BY THIS FEE
SHALL BE REMITTED TO SUFFOLK COUNTY. THE OFFICE SHALL HAVE THE AUTHORI-
TY TO WAIVE THIS FEE AT ITS DISCRETION.
S 21.09 REVOCATION OF CERTIFICATES.
(A) THE OFFICE SHALL HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO REVOKE A CERTIFICATE IF A
SOBER LIVING HOME CEASES TO MEET THE STANDARDS PROVIDED OR WITH THE
PROVISIONS OF ANY OTHER APPLICABLE STATE OF SUFFOLK COUNTY LAW OR REGU-
LATION. THE HOLDER OF THE CERTIFICATE SHALL BE GIVEN AT LEAST THIRTY
DAYS WRITTEN NOTICE AND THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE HEARD PRIOR TO REVOCATION.
(B) THE COMMISSIONER MAY IMMEDIATELY REVOKE A CERTIFICATE IF THERE ARE
REASONABLE GROUNDS TO BELIEVE THAT THE CONTINUED OPERATION OF THE SOBER
LIVING HOME PRESENTS AN IMMEDIATE DANGER TO RESIDENTS OF THE HOME OR THE
GENERAL PUBLIC. SUCH ACTION MUST BE MADE IN WRITING TO THE CERTIFICATE
HOLDER, AND MAY LAST NO LONGER THAN THIRTY DAYS, DURING WHICH TIME THE
COMMISSIONER SHALL MAKE A FINAL DETERMINATION AFTER GIVING THE CERTIF-
ICATE HOLDER AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE HEARD.
S 21.11 INSPECTIONS.
THE OFFICE SHALL, IN COORDINATION WITH THE SUFFOLK COUNTY DEPARTMENT
OF COMMUNITY MENTAL HYGIENE SERVICES, PROMULGATE RULES AND REGULATIONS
REGARDING THE INSPECTION OF CERTIFIED SOBER LIVING HOMES IN ORDER TO
ENSURE THAT EACH HOME IS IN COMPLIANCE WITH ALL APPLICABLE RULES AND
S 21.13 VIOLATIONS.
ANY CERTIFIED SOBER LIVING HOME THAT IS FOUND BY THE OFFICE TO BE IN
VIOLATION OF ANY PROVISION OF THIS ARTICLE OR ANY OTHER STATE, COUNTY,
TOWN, OR VILLAGE LAW OR REGULATION MAY BE FINED. A FINE MAY BE IMPOSED
FOR EACH DAY THAT A SOBER LIVING HOME REMAINS IN VIOLATION OF THIS ARTI-
CLE OR ANY OTHER STATE OR COUNTY LAW OR REGULATION. THE DAILY FINE MAY
NOT EXCEED ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS PER DAY, AND IN NO EVENT MAY THE TOTAL
FINE AMOUNT EXCEED FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS ANNUALLY EXCEPT FOR FINES
ISSUED PURSUANT TO SECTION 210 OF THE GENERAL BUSINESS LAW. SUCH FINE
MAY BE IN LIEU OF, OR IN ADDITION TO, CERTIFICATE REVOCATION. ONE-HALF
OF ANY FINES ASSESSED SHALL BE REMITTED TO SUFFOLK COUNTY.
S 21.15 EXCLUSIVITY OF SOBER LIVING HOME TITLE.
NO OWNER, OPERATOR OR LANDLORD MAY HOLD A PROPERTY OUT TO BE OR ADVER-
TISE A PROPERTY AS A SOBER HOME OR SOBER LIVING HOME IN SUFFOLK COUNTY
UNLESS THE PROPERTY IS CERTIFIED BY THE OFFICE.
S 21.17 LISTING OF CERTIFIED SOBER LIVING HOMES.
THE OFFICE SHALL MAINTAIN AN ONLINE LISTING, AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC,
OF ALL CERTIFIED SOBER LIVING HOMES IN SUFFOLK COUNTY WHICH ARE IN GOOD
S 21.19 TOLL-FREE HOTLINE.
THE OFFICE SHALL ESTABLISH A TOLL-FREE TELEPHONE LINE TO RECEIVE AND
RESPOND TO COMPLAINTS REGARDING SOBER LIVING HOMES IN SUFFOLK COUNTY.
S 4. Paragraph (vii) of subdivision (g), subdivisions (h) and (i) of
section 17 of the social services law, paragraph (vii) of subdivision
(g) as added by chapter 280 of the laws of 2002, subdivision (h) as
S. 4697 5 A. 6791
added and subdivision (i) as relettered by section 1 of part K-3 of
chapter 57 of the laws of 2007, and subdivision (i) as amended by chap-
ter 110 of the laws of 1971, are amended to read as follows:
(vii) emphasize the need for the system to hold the abusing partner
responsible by appropriate referrals to law enforcement[.];
(h) make available on its website all award allocations for request
for proposals issued by the office of children and family services upon
release of such awards. Such information shall also include all organ-
izations requesting funding and the amounts requested for each request
for proposal. The office of children and family services may also
include any other information related to each program that it deems
(i) ENSURE THAT ALL RECIPIENTS OF PUBLIC ASSISTANCE WHO RESIDE IN
SOBER LIVING HOMES, AS DEFINED BY ARTICLE TWENTY-ONE OF THE MENTAL
HYGIENE LAW, RESIDE IN HOUSING ACCOMMODATIONS THAT ARE IN COMPLIANCE
WITH ALL APPLICABLE BUILDING CODES, ORDINANCES AND REGULATIONS OF THE
MUNICIPALITY IN WHICH THE HOUSING ACCOMMODATION IS LOCATED. REASONABLE
ACCOMMODATIONS FROM BUILDING CODES, ORDINANCES AND REGULATIONS SHALL BE
MADE PURSUANT TO THE FEDERAL FAIR HOUSING ACT. UPON DISCOVERY THAT SUCH
HOUSING ACCOMMODATION IS NOT IN COMPLIANCE RECIPIENTS SHALL BE HOUSED IN
EMERGENCY HOUSING OR OTHER ALTERNATIVE TEMPORARY HOUSING UNTIL SUCH TIME
AS THE INITIAL HOUSING ACCOMMODATIONS IN WHICH SUCH RECIPIENT OR RECIPI-
ENTS RESIDED IS BROUGHT INTO COMPLIANCE WITH ALL APPLICABLE BUILDING
CODES, ORDINANCES AND REGULATIONS OF SUFFOLK COUNTY AND THE MUNICIPALITY
IN WHICH SUCH HOUSING ACCOMMODATION IS LOCATED OR UNTIL A SUITABLE
PERMANENT HOUSING ACCOMMODATION IS LOCATED, WHICHEVER OCCURS EARLIER;
(J) exercise such other powers and perform such other duties as may be
imposed by law.
S 5. Subdivision 2 of section 143-b of the social services law, as
added by chapter 997 of the laws of 1962, is amended to read as follows:
2. Every public welfare official shall have power to and may withhold
the payment of any such rent, OR PORTION COMPRISING RENT IN INSTANCES
WHERE THE DEPARTMENT MAKES ROOM AND BOARD PAYMENTS TO A SOBER LIVING
HOME AS DEFINED BY THE MENTAL HYGIENE LAW, in any case where he has
knowledge that there exists or there is outstanding any violation of law
in respect to the building containing the housing accommodations occu-
pied by the person entitled to such assistance which is dangerous,
hazardous or detrimental to life or health. A report of each such
violation shall be made to the appropriate public welfare department by
the appropriate department or agency having jurisdiction over
S 6. Severability. If any clause, sentence, paragraph or part of this
act shall be adjudged by any court of competent jurisdiction to be
invalid, such judgment shall not affect, impair or invalidate the
remainder thereof, but shall be confined in its operation to the clause,
sentence, paragraph or part thereof directly involved in the controversy
in which such judgment shall have been rendered.
S 7. This act shall take effect one year after it shall have become a
law. Effective immediately, the addition, amendment and/or repeal of any
rule or regulation necessary for the implementation of this act on its
effective date is authorized to be made on or before such effective