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N.H. Legislature Could Ramp Up Oversight Over Sober Living

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New Hampshire lawmakers are considering a bill to give towns more oversight over sober living facilities.

The facilities rent rooms to people recovering from addiction, with the goal of staying clean and finding community support.

Manchester fire chief Dan Goonan, who helped craft the bill, says in Manchester, there are dozens of unregulated sober living facilities, some without proper exits or fire or carbon monoxide alarms.

"There’s going to be a tragedy because we have an awful lot of facilities that are running as sober living that are unsafe," he says.

The bill, HB 311, defines a sober living facility or sober home as "a dwelling unit occupied by more than 4 and less then 16 unrelated persons, all of whom are in recovery from chemical dependency and considered handicapped."

The bill would require sober living facilities to become licensed with their local municipality and fire department and to meet a list of fire safety requirements.

It would also allow municipalities to close down a facility and fine its owner if it did not comply with the new law.  

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.

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