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H.R. 5735 (115th): THRIVE Act

H.R. 5735 establishes a demonstration program to set aside Section 8 housing vouchers for supportive and transitional housing for individuals recovering from substance use disorders. This bill would set aside, out of approximately 2.2 million vouchers, the lesser of 10,000 vouchers or .05 percent of all vouchers for use in the five-year demonstration. Eligible voucher recipients would participate in programs that provide evidence-based treatment and workforce development training according to standards established by the HUD Secretary, in consultation with other relevant agencies.

The Section 8 low-income housing program is authorized under Section 8 of the U.S. Housing Act of 1937 and provides individual and project-based assistance. The Housing Choice Vouchers are portable subsidies that eligible low-income families or individuals can use to subsidize their rents in the private market. Housing Choice Vouchers are administered at the local level by quasi-governmental public housing authorities (PHAs). Project-based rental assistance is a form of rental subsidy that is attached to a unit of privately owned housing. In both the Housing Choice Voucher and project-based subsidies, participating families or individuals contribute 30 percent of their income to the monthly rental payment, with the subsidy covering the remaining portion of the rent up to an established local rental payment standard.

H.R. 5735 would change how vouchers are allocated by authorizing HUD to directly distribute such vouchers, on a competitive basis, to eligible entities, such as non-profit organizations, which will use the vouchers to complement recovery based services.

The opioid epidemic is a public health problem. Rising opioid-related death rates underscore the need to target housing resources for substance use treatment services to make effective treatment more widely available. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 64,000 people died of a drug overdose in 2016. Sixty-five percent (42,000) of those deaths were related to the opioid epidemic, compared to only 8,400 deaths in 2000. On October 26, 2017, President Trump announced that his Administration was declaring the opioid crisis a national Public Health Emergency under federal law, effective immediately and the President stated. “I am directing all executive agencies to use every appropriate emergency authority to fight the opioid crisis.”

On March 29, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order to establish the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The Commission will be chaired by Governor Chris Christie and will study ways to combat and treat the scourge of drug abuse, addiction, and the opioid crisis. The Commission’s Final Report issued on November 1, 2017 noted, “There is a critical shortage of recovery housing for Americans in or pursuing recovery. Recovery residences (also known as “sober homes” or “recovery homes”) are alcohol- and drug-free living environments for individuals seeking the skills and social support to remain free of alcohol or other drugs and live a life of recovery in the community.”

Creating a demonstration program in this legislation will show how the short-term transitional housing approach is transformational in helping covered individuals maintain sobriety after completing rehabilitation, gain valuable skills in job training, obtain employment, and eventually transition back to society to lead independent lives.

H.R. 5735 will provide participants who have a drug and substance abuse disorder a free, clean, safe and supportive structured environment. This approach to transitional housing would allow residents an opportunity to address their addiction, mental health, homelessness or other personal challenges in a supportive environment that could include required participation in activities such as recovery classes, life skills education classes, mandatory savings plans, and full-time or part-time employment. The housing services provided by H.R. 5735 would complement services provided onsite such as case management, peer support, and daily living and coping skills education to assist individuals in improving their lives.

Last updated Jun 12, 2018. Source: Republican Policy Committee

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Jun 14, 2018.

Transitional Housing for Recovery in Viable Environments Demonstration Program Act or the THRIVE Act

(Sec. 2) This bill amends the United States Housing Act of 1937 to require the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to establish a five-year demonstration program for nonprofit organizations and tribally designated housing entities to provide low-income rental-assistance vouchers to individuals recovering from an opioid or other substance-use disorder. Specifically, these vouchers shall be provided through a supportive housing program that provides treatment for such disorders and coordination with workforce development providers.

HUD may waive, or specify alternative requirements for, any provision of statute or regulation governing the use of these vouchers (except for requirements relating to fair housing, nondiscrimination, labor standards, or the environment) if such waiver or alternative is necessary.