Responding to the diverse needs of the community, various types of recovery residences were formed in the 1900s. We also started seeing providers organize to promote quality and policy turning points that opened the door to rapid growth.

The Mid-1900s

  • AA Homes / 12 Step Homes – A century after the Washingtonians, another mutual aid society, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), formed in 1935 and continues to grow worldwide. Seeing the need, Fellowship members began opening AA Homes. Today, many recovery residences have strong ties to the 12 Step Community.
  • Minnesota Model – Recovery homes were the precursor of residential treatment. To meet the higher needs of residents, some AA Homes and AA Farms evolved their programming. For example, Hazel’s Den evolved into 1949 Hazelden and, eventually, the Minnesota Model of addiction treatment.
  • Halfway Houses – The Association of Halfway House and ALcoholic Programs of North America (AHHAP) formed, promoted networking, developed workforce development training, and hosted conferences attended by providers from across the US and Canada.
  • Therapeutic Communities – In the late 1950s, long-term and peer-run residential programs, known as Therapeutic Communities, formed. TCs often specialize in specific populations, such as justice-involved and adolescents, adding clinical staff to their model. Today, they are considered a type of residential treatment.


The Late-1900s

  • Social model recovery – Researchers and recovery residence providers began publishing the social model because policy changes pressured the marketplace to adopt the medical model philosophy.
  • Oxford House, Inc – In 1975, Oxford House, a franchise of democratically run recovery homes, was founded and grew across the US and abroad.
  • Regional organizations – Providers organized regionally to promote quality standards:
    • 1978 – California Addiction and Recovery Resources (CARR), which is now the California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP)
    • 1987 – Georgia Association of Recovery Residences (GARR)
    • 1996 – Sober Living Network


Policy Turning Points

To understand recovery residence history in the late 1900s, it is important to highlight key legislation:

  • 1968 – Federal Fair Housing Act – While it did not include persons in recovery, it laid the foundation for future protections.
  • 1973 – Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act – First established substance use a disability
  • 1988 – Fair Housing Amendments Act – Added “disabled” to the list of “protected classes.” The civil rights definition of “disabled” or “handicapped” includes recovering from substance use. It gives persons in recovery the right to housing choice, which includes living in residential neighborhoods. Restricting recovery housing from being sited in neighborhoods may cause fair housing discrimination.
  • 1988 – Anti-Drug Abuse Act – Allocated funding to recovery housing, specifically Oxford House and similar models. Most states have “sunsetted” or ended this program.
  • 1990 – Americans with Disability Act (ADA) – strengthens civil rights protections for persons who are disabled, including persons in recovery, from discrimination.
  • 1999 – Olmstead Decision – Supreme Court decision related to the ADA, which states that people with a disability have the right to community integration.