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									JUSTICE PROGRAMS OFFICE                                                        SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS


Subject:           Providing Housing for Drug Court Participants
From:              Caroline S. Cooper, Director, BJA Drug Court Clearinghouse
Date:              December 23, 2005- REVISED


Paul Wolford, Drug Court Coordinator in Frederick County has raised the following issue:

We have run into a pretty significant problem in our new drug court --finding housing for our participants.
We have been able to sufficiently address the needs of the incoming participants in most areas except for

My question is: What are other programs doing to address the housing need? Specifically:

1.       What experiences (positive or negative) have drug courts had in approaching local housing
         (a) to provide housing for drug court participants not already residing in public housing?
         (b) to permit drug court participants already residing in public housing to remain?

2.       Have any programs developed an MOU with their Housing Authority to designate the Drug Court as a
         rehab program* under 24.CFR.982, Section 8 ("Tenant Based Assistance: Housing Choice Voucher
         Program") so that drug court participants who might be otherwise eligible for Section 8 public housing
         assistance program do not lose their eligibility after an arrest?

3.     We are considering starting our starting our own “sober house” for participants.
       (a) Is this something that a drug court should do? If so, how should we go about such a project?
            Also: where would we go to find funding to start a house?
       (b) Of will the problems and issues associated with such a project be more than what we should attempt
            to handle?
*…(iii) In determining whether to deny admission or terminate assistance for illegal use of drugs or alcohol abuse by a household
member who is no longer engaged in such behavior, the PHA considers whether such household member is participating in or
has successfully completed a supervised drug or alcohol rehabilitation program or has otherwise been rehabilitated successfully
(42 U.S. C. 13661). For this purpose, the PHA may require the applicant or tenant to submit evidence of the household member’s
current participation in, or successful completion of, a supervised drug or alcohol rehabilitation program or evidence of otherwise
having been rehabilitated successfully…”



Judge Peggy Hora
Superior Court
Alameda County, California

We have an MOU with our county housing authority to count the drug court as rehab under the CFR.1
However, the Exec Dir has left and no one there can find the MOU and I sent everything to our Drug Ct.
office since I'm retiring and they say it hasn't been received so I can't send you anything. Essentially, we
agreed to count drug court participation as rehab and the participant didn't lose his/her housing as a result
of their drug arrest. The client signs waiver and we report any termination of drug court participation to
the Housing Authority.


Joseph Stelma
Fourth Judicial Circuit Court
Duval County (Jacksonville), Florida

We use Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services, local HUD housing as long as they have not been
evicted for drugs on the property. The Salvation Army and other treatment providers have transitional
housing. Alumni housing and other united way agencies can help. We also refer participants to faith
based programs.

 Jane Isherwood
 Sixteenth Judicial Circuit Court
 Key West, Florida

     Code of Federal Regulations]. [Title 24, Volume 4]. [Revised as of April 1, 2004]. From the U.S. Government Printing
Office via GPO Access. [CITE: 24CFR982.552]. Page 626-627]. TITLE 24--HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
VOUCHER PROGRAM--Table of Contents. Subpart L_Family Obligations; Denial and Termination of Assistance Sec. 982.552
PHA denial or termination of assistance for family.DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
Frequently Asked Questions Series: Providing Housing for Drug Court Participants. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) 2
Drug Court Clearinghouse. American University. December 23, 2005- REVISED
The Out Reach Coalition for the Homeless in Key West has taken over excess Navy Housing and opened
sober half-way homes, with housing available for up to 2 years.

Judge Jeffrey Rosinek
Eleventh Judicial Circuit
Miami, Florida

In Miami, The Miami Dade Drug Court established 2 years ago a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit corporation
called, Friends of Drug Court (FODC) ( www.friendsofdrugcourt.com ) and applied and received an
initial grant from a local organization, Miami Coalition for the Homeless. With that grant, FODC
provided funds to drug court clients who were doing well in the program to pay for the first and last
months rent and the security deposit to get those individuals and families into housing. The funds were
loaned at no interest with a pay back of $100 per month. Additionally, monies were given and loaned for
1/2 and 3/4 way housing.


Janice Bennett
Honolulu Drug Court
Honolulu, Hawaii

The Hawaii Drug Court Program has encountered the same problems. The housing market is so tight here
that our clients cannot pass the credit checks to rent apartments, let alone a house. We work extensively
with the Oxford Houses, Inc., and have worked out an agreement whereby the drug court program
collects the rent in the form of money orders to help ensure that he rent is paid on time and checks do not
bounce. We have a not-for-profit organization, "the Friends of Hawaii Drug Court", that received a HUD
grant for $400,000, but that is not enough to buy a single family dwelling so they are looking into buying
a condo or apartment unit. We tried to rent a whole apartment building, but found that having 50 or so
felons in the same building made for lots of problems with the neighborhood. The clients just don't know
how to live quiet and inconspicuous lives...surprise! the one thing that we have to be careful of is creating
a situation whereby the Friends becomes the "landlord" and the client is the "tenant" because Hawaii has a
very "tenant" friendly Landlord-Tenant Code. We would not be able to evict a client if they relapsed or
failed to pay their rent, or got sent to jail simply because they are in the drug court program. The ideal
situation would be for the Friends to become the tenant and sublet to the clients, or for the Friends to be
the landlord and the client, as the tenant, to be placed on a month-to-month lease.

The Judiciary has made it very clear that neither it nor the drug court program will ever enter a housing
agreement whereby the Judiciary or the drug court program becomes the landlord.


Mary Bombich
Circuit Court for Kalamazoo County
Kalamazoo, Michigan
Frequently Asked Questions Series: Providing Housing for Drug Court Participants. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA)   3
Drug Court Clearinghouse. American University. December 23, 2005- REVISED

We utilize our Housing Resource agency often when looking for housing for our clients. They have been
helpful to an extent but there are often rules about not renting to people with felonies. We are fortunate
to have several sober living homes in the community that accept our clients. Some of these are faith
based programs and others are founded on 12-Step programs. Since we have been in the community for
many years, most of the programs are familiar with our program and work well with us. We also have a
residential program for both men and women who are on probation. While they are not locked in, they
must adhere to strict rules for coming and going as well as participate in educational opportunities that
will assist them in getting a job and housing on their own. We often use this facility as a step down from
incarceration. We do not have any written agreements in place with any programs other than this one
residential facility, which is temporary.

Should you start your own sober living residence? If you don't have one available now and if you can
participate in getting one going, that would be great. I personally do not know of the pitfalls but the
benefits to our clients have been great. We have had the faith based community come forward in this
area. Perhaps there is someone in your community that you can partner with to accomplish this --maybe
someone who has been in recovery for a while along with United Way or a church or group of churches.
I don't know that I would take this on just as a Drug Court project as there is so much to gain by

Ellen Zehnder
Sixth Judicial Circuit Court for Oakland County
Oakland, Michigan

The Adult Treatment Court of the 6th Circuit Court of Oakland County, Michigan has not, at this point,
seen the need to approach local housing authorities for our participants. Fortunately, there have been no
major problems regarding housing for our clients. A good portion of our participants start out in
residential treatment for 3 months and then are transitioned to a 3/4 house for housing, with IOP
(Intensive Outpatient Services) treatment at an outside facility. Many are then transitioned to independent
living (apartment), after a time, through the 3/4 house, because they are stable, working, and able to
support themselves. There are those who have families that welcome them back into the home after they
have stabilized also. There are a certain number of participants who are allowed to go out and get their
own apartments after they have proven themselves to be responsible and have a lengthy employment
history. These clients do not seem to have a problem securing their own living arrangements.
Michigan also has a program entitled Michigan $aves$. This is a savings program for people with limited
incomes who want to build financial assets. The program works with the client to provide the extra dollars
and tools to help build a brighter future. Every $1 a person saves is matched with $2 or $3 toward one of
the following eligible uses:

                   -        Down payment on a first home
                   -        Tuition for college or vocational training
                   -        Small business start-up or expansion

To be eligible one must:
                -        Agree to save an average of at least $20 per month from earned income
Frequently Asked Questions Series: Providing Housing for Drug Court Participants. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA)   4
Drug Court Clearinghouse. American University. December 23, 2005- REVISED
                   -        Agree to complete an educational series on financial management and
                            asset planning.
                   -        Agree to meet other Michigan $aves$ program requirements as described
                            by the local IDA (Individual Development Account) program office.
                   -        Show proof of earned income that meets the income guidelines.
Further information on this program can be obtained from the local office in Oakland 248-209-2600. As
yet, none of our participants have expressed a need to use this program, but, I have checked to make sure
the program is still operational, and their office stated that it was.


Tali McKay
Circuit Court for Lane County
Eugene, Oregon

Our experience is very limited, and we have not worked directly with the Housing Authority beyond
writing occasional letters to confirm Drug Court participation. I had not realized that an arrest alone
could result in loss of eligibility for Section 8 housing; I thought that a conviction was required, but I may
be wrong about that. In any case, the idea of negotiating directly with the Housing Authority is new for
us, and we would very much like to receive a copy of the information you compile from other drug courts
on this topic.

Safe housing is a major problem for our participants, and our resources are limited. We have a
transitional housing program (Sponsors, Inc.) that we can access for some of our participants. The
program provides free housing for 90 days for parole/probation clients, giving them an opportunity to
find employment and save enough money to secure their own housing. Sponsors, Inc., is an excellent
resource--safe, structured, and supervised—but there are not nearly enough beds to meet the need, and our
access is limited.

Our community also has numerous recovery houses (Oxford model),but most require 30 days of clean
time and the ability to pay rent, so access is limited. Also, while most of our recovery houses are safe and
well-run, some are not, so we provide our participants with a list of approved recovery houses.
Sometimes these houses are willing to accept Drug Court participants who are not able to pay a month's
rent in advance because of the high level of accountability in our program--they are more willing to take a
risk with our participants than they normally would.

Oregon's budget problems in recent years have resulted in severe cuts in the number of indigent beds
available in residential treatment programs, making safe housing an even more critical issue for our

We struggle with these issues daily, and would like to hear about solutions that other programs may have
found. In response to Paul's idea about "starting our own sober house", I think it would be very unwise
for the court to become involved directly--there would be too many legal problems, liability issues, and
Frequently Asked Questions Series: Providing Housing for Drug Court Participants. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA)   5
Drug Court Clearinghouse. American University. December 23, 2005- REVISED
conflict-of-interest issues. Having said that, the court may have a partner in the community (or be able to
develop a partnership) that could take on such a project. It would be important for that agency or
organization to have 501(c)(3) status, as nonprofit organizations are able to apply for grants and accept
charitable donations. My experience with applying to private foundations for grants has been that
addicted adult offenders are not a sympathetic population to private foundations--if applications can be
crafted in a way that directly benefits children or pregnant moms or mothers with kids, there is a better
chance of receiving private grant funding.

I look forward to hearing about the ideas and experiences of other courts. I suspect that the need for safe
housing is a universal issue, and hope that other drug court programs will have some creative solutions to


Judge Louis Presenza
First Judicial District Municipal Court
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Philadelphia Treatment Court has no contractual agreement with the Philadelphia Housing Authority
and does not use any of its housing sites. However, through the City's Department of Behavioral Health,
we can access 21 recovery houses comprising 352 slots. These include male, female and female with


Judge Seth Norman
Criminal Court, Division IV
Davidson County (Nashville), Tennessee

The Davidson County Drug Court is somewhat different from other drug courts. We operate a 120 bed
residential treatment facility. We house that number of individuals during the time of their treatment.
Most of the participants are in treatment for 18 months. In the past most of them have gone to staff
approved halfway house facilities when they leave the facility. During the past year we have worked with
the Metropolitan Housing Authority for Nashville in an effort to purchase homes that can be used for
transitional housing for individuals once they leave our facility. It is anticipated that we will purchase our
first home within the next 30 days. The home that we intend to buy is in need of repair. However, because
we have so much talent among our residents, we intend to do most of the repairs using the skills of our
residents. It is anticipated that the house will accommodate 5 female graduates. They will be required to
pay a rent that is commensurate with their income. We have just made another request of the Housing
Authority for a similar grant next year. We propose to do this each year and to add a home each year.

In addition to the above we have made a request from the Tennessee Department of housing for the
purchase of 6 duplexes. This is the first time that we have ever made such a request from the State and we
do not, at this time, know what the response will be. I can say that we have had very favorable feedback
from people in that agency and our hopes are very high. Because our facility treats mostly multiple
offenders, we are told that they all qualify for housing assistance.
Frequently Asked Questions Series: Providing Housing for Drug Court Participants. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA)   6
Drug Court Clearinghouse. American University. December 23, 2005- REVISED
Finally we are working on a grant request thru the United States Department of Health and Human
Services requesting a grant for housing.

[Additional comments provided by Judge Norman in response to my question regarding the sources of
funding, who was responsible for operating the facility, and who was the “landlord” for the facility in
response to others’ comments regarding potential issues emanating from a landlord/tenant relationship.]

 I, as the judge of the drug court, am responsible for the operation of the program. I do not enjoy the
luxury of being a "drug court judge". I am elected to serve as the Judge of Division IV of the Criminal
Courts for Davidson County, Tennessee. I often say "my day job is being a criminal court judge, my night
job is operating the Davidson County Drug Court". I do have a program manager and a staff of about 30

Initially the Davidson County Drug Court was an out patient program. Within 6 months after we began
the program we recognized that we needed an inpatient program. When we began we used some buildings
in an old abandoned state mental health facility. There was very little start-up cost because the property
was rent free and all of our furnishings we obtained from the state surplus property department. Our
operating cost came from certain Federal grants that we were able to obtain, such as Edward Byrne,
Police block and RSAT (Residential Substance Abuse Treatment). We were fortunate because after two
years of operation a major corporation moved to Nashville and wanted the land that we were situated on
for their operation. As the result of this, the City of Nashville paid for our new three million dollar

Today our operating expenses come from several places. We still receive money from RSAT and Police
Block Grants. Thanks to an agreement with the District Attorney and the Chief of Police we receive
certain funds from fine and forfeitures connected to drug cases. People who are in the final phase of the
residential treatment program are required to maintain a 40 hour per week job. Because they are still
residing at the facility, they are required to pay a portion of their net income as rent.

 A major portion of our operating expenses comes from the State of Tennessee. Over 90% of the
individuals who are placed in the program are multiple offenders. They would not be eligible for any type
of alternative release. If they were not in the Drug Court Program they would be incarcerated in the State
penal system. At the present time, the minimum daily cost to house an individual in our penal system is
$52.00 per day. The Davidson County Drug Court operates on a daily individual cost of less than $40.00
per day. With an average of 100 people in the program at any one time, this brings about a yearly savings
in excess of 425,000.00 for the State of Tennessee. Governor Phil Bredesen has recognized this savings
and has included $665,000.00 per year in his proposed budget to help in the operation of the Drug Court.

In addition to the Davidson County Drug Court, we also operate the Davidson County Drug Court
Support Foundation, a tax-exempt 501(c) (3) corporation. All requests for transitional housing have been
made thru the Foundation. They would operate the transitional housing program and would eventually
own the properties.

I know of no State regulations that would prevent us from evicting people from the housing units if they
violated the law. It is our intention to have them sign such an agreement before they are considered for a
housing unit. The vast majority of them would still be on state probation. If they violate their probation
they will go to serve their sentence.
Frequently Asked Questions Series: Providing Housing for Drug Court Participants. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA)   7
Drug Court Clearinghouse. American University. December 23, 2005- REVISED

Kim DeBeer
District Court for Rutland County
Rutland, Vermont

 The Rutland Drug Court has been successful in securing "Shelter Plus Care Vouchers" from our local
Housing Coalition. While these are not Section 8 vouchers, there have very strict eligibility guidelines;
recipients must meet poverty level income guidelines; provide documentation of a physician verified
"serious and persistent" mental illness; and find housing that falls within the permitted cost. Upon
acceptance, the voucher pays for the apartment less 30% of the cost for a period of 5 years.

We have found that the requirements are so stringent that participants are seldom able to meet all the

To date, Section 8 has not been an option in our district as there is a significant (2 years at last check)
waiting list and they have not been accepting additional names since the inception of our Drug Court. The
one experience we have had with Section 8 involved a participant living with a Section 8 recipient. The
program director required notification if our participant was terminated from the program at which time
the participant would be forced to leave the housing.

We did attempt to provide our own housing using transitional housing funds from our federal grant. We
provided two apartments ( 1, 2 bedroom - female; 1, 3 bedroom - male). Apartments were free to
participants as long as they were working to save for their own apartment. Senior participants in phase 2
or 3 were in charge of the apartment that was overseen by the drug court coordinator. We found that
managing the house became very problematic and required a full time staff member. We discontinued
providing housing after the first year.

In our experience we have found that a better solution to the housing issue is to partner with existing,
established housing providers. We are in the initial stages of partnering with a local half-way house to
provide 2 beds for our participants. We intend to develop an MOU for the partnership but have not
reached that stage yet.

To date we have relied heavily on the local recovery community. Participants have been encouraged and
successful in connecting with sponsors and the recovery community for housing. We rely heavily on
families of participants as well.


We welcome any additional information and/or perspective readers may have on this topic.

                            Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Drug Court Clearinghouse
                                         Justice Programs Office, School of Public Affairs
                                                 American University
                              4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Brandywine, Suite 100
                                            Washington D.C. 20016-8159
Frequently Asked Questions Series: Providing Housing for Drug Court Participants. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA)   8
Drug Court Clearinghouse. American University. December 23, 2005- REVISED
                                      Tel: 202/885-2875Fax: 202/885-2885
                        e-mail: justice@american.edu Web: www.american.edu/justice

___________________________                                                                               9
      FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS SERIES: State Funding for Drug Courts: Mechanisms and Practices.
. BJA Drug Court Clearinghouse. School of Public Affairs, American University. November 18, 2004- DRAFT

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