County launches sober home oversight plan

County officials unveiled last week a plan to reform sober homes, making Suffolk County the first in the state to create such a program, aimed at monitoring drug and alcohol treatment facilities.

During a press conference in Riverhead, Legislator Kate Browning (WF-Shirley) announced details of the new program, called Suffolk County’s Sober Home Network.

Sober homes that agree to enhanced oversight would be rewarded with additional funding from the county as an incentive to join the new program, officials said at the event last Monday.

“New York State has not done their job in providing adequate recovery housing and the result has been out-of-control boarding homes that are preying on our vulnerable populations and wasting taxpayer money,” Ms. Browning said. “This program and oversight board will set a precedent for other counties and the state.”

The new 18-member oversight committee will include state, county and town officials, as well as representatives from drug treatment agencies, emergency services and housing agencies. Their goal will be to make sure sober homes are adhering to the new guidelines.

Some of the new rules include coordinating treatment programs for residents, enforcing a “zero tolerance” policy for alcohol and drug use and providing 24-hour supervision of residents.

Sober homes that violate the new guidelines could lose their county funding, officials said.

“While Suffolk County’s Sober Home Network will not remove bad homes from the community, it is the first step in directing taxpayer money away from rogue homes and instead spending public monies on well-run homes that are tied with treatment,” Ms. Browning said.

The pilot program is expected to launch this fall.

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