Medication Policy: Fair Housing and Medication Policies

Creating a Medication Policy for Recovery Housing > Medication Policy: Fair Housing and Medication Policies


There is a critical intersection with Fair Housing and Medication policies.  Remember, recovery housing is housing, and therefore, both state and federal fair housing laws apply.

People who use medications that are prescribed to them by licensed health care providers are considered persons with disabilities and are a protected class.  This includes MAT medications, medications or mental health, and any other prescription medication.  Therefore, residents have the right to request reasonable accommodations from a housing provider’s policies or practices to help them gain equal access to enjoy and use the dwelling.  These reasonable accommodations requests can be made at any time and you have a legal obligation to consider them individually.

Therefore, recovery housing operators must have a process for considering such accommodation.  Housing providers must maintain a process where each request is examined on a case-by-case basis, taking into account individual circumstances and whether granting the request is necessary.

Blanket policies that simply state “We do not accept people who use MAT” are not appropriate – because you are basically stating that you are discriminating against people with disabilities, it also implies that you are not willing to engage in the required reasonable accommodations process and have a dialog with the person.

This does not mean that you must do everything a person with a disability asks of you, but you must have a process for considering requests that are made by persons with disabilities.  Prior to denying such requests, the housing provider must engage in a dialog with the person who had made the request.

Such requests are an opportunity for you to engage in the social model of recovery.  Under the social model, you are creating an environment where residents are empowered and their experience is valued, they are listened to, you are working with them individually and they are creating and setting their own individual goals.  These are the same skills you need to engage in discussions on reasonable accommodations.

The point of these discussions is to have an honest dialog, explore possibilities, and learn if you can reasonably accommodate the individual.  Like the social model of recovery where individual experience is respected and valued, you must engage in these discussions each time, with each individual person, and with an open mind, being willing to listen and work with each individual resident and learning about their individual needs and circumstances.

LEARN MORE about the Social Model of Recovery HERE.

The case by case nature of these requirements mean that there are many different ways that recovery homes may work with individuals to accommodate them within the home.  We certainly hope that denials of requests for accommodations are rare, and that you are able to use skills based in the social model of recovery to work with residents.

However, a request for a reasonable accommodation may be denied if it was not made on behalf of a person with a disability, there is no disability-related need for the accommodation, or if it is not considered reasonable.

A request is not considered reasonable if it imposes a fundamental alteration in the nature of the program or an undue financial or administrative burden on the housing provider.

Seek legal guidance prior to denying such requests to ensure you have appropriate documentation to demonstrate that the request was unreasonable, and maintain documentation of your reasoning for denying the request.