Before Fred Way came to speak to our class, I thought I had an idea of what recovery housing was. However, when I thought about recovery housing, I thought about the university recovery housing we had talked about or imagined facilities similar to residential treatment center. Although we often discussed recovery housing as a potential solution, I never thought of recovery housing for what it is: simply a place for people in recovery to live together, support each other and helping each other. I didn’t think of row homes with few distinguishing characteristics.

Because I had an inaccurate idea of what recovery housing is, however, I never thought about the challenges of opening and maintaining a recovery house and the poor conditions they can exist with. Way walked our class through the certification requirements that he oversees in order to ensure that recovery houses are safe places to live and actually meet standard guidelines to prevent people from taking advantage of people with few options and opening a subpar “recovery house” for profit.

What surprised me the most, however, was how Way described the push-back from many communities about recovery houses. Many communities will not allow anyone to open recovery houses because they don’t want to deal with the perceived consequences. Of course, I was not surprised to hear that people aren’t understanding, are prejudiced and maintain a “not in my backyard” attitude, but I was surprised to hear that the process of founding a recovery house is so public and involved with the community as a whole.

Something that struck me about Way’s talk was the disparages in finding suitable recovery housing between different groups. Although Way called Philadelphia the recovery house capital of the U.S., there is little housing for women, women with children, men of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community. In order to increase access to recovery housing for underserved groups, the certification process for recovery housing must continue to be enforced.