• Kelly Rhone

FAQs about Halfway House

OKLAND, California - You’re back! Is it to learn even more about halfway houses once again? No worries about that, I’ve got you covered!

To sum it all up, let’s use the 5 basic Ws and the 1H as our guide.

Who can avail halfway houses?

While halfway houses cater reformed convicts who are not yet able to support themselves independently, it also caters those who are homeless with some being admitted as a requirement of a court order.

Now if you’re wondering who it is that really started halfway houses, has provided us with a summary for its origins!

As it turns out, it was Maud Ballington Booth, the co-founder of Volunteers of America and an advocate for prison reform, opened the first privately owned U.S. halfway house.

What are halfway houses?

After knowing the ‘who’, it’s time to move on to the ‘what’. What exactly are halfway houses you ask? And what are the benefits and drawbacks they bring?

Knowing is usually the first step towards making a decision, and that doesn’t exempt halfway houses. Putting together what I’ve gathered from different articles so far, a halfway house is traditionally government sanctioned and meant to provide housing for people who have been released from institutions or prisons, basically reformed convicts or those who possess mental handicaps. Hence, these are also called as “residential treatment centers” or “community correctional centers” as they serve as treatment programs for eligible offenders and help the aforementioned people slowly assimilate into the rest of society.

Let’s give our thanks to the sites cited!

Benefits of Halfway Houses

Great transitional living space. The whole point of sober living is to help addicts and alcoholics move seamlessly from substance abuse treatment to the real world.

  • Drug and alcohol-free. Residents usually sign a contract upon entering a sober house. Relapsing violates the agreement, and tenants are promptly kicked out. Responsible halfway houses will then work to get the resident into a treatment center or detox.

  • Promote accountability and prevent relapse. Through this “sobriety contract,” house meetings, drug tests, breathalyzers, and community support, recovery houses offer accountability that helps those in early-sobriety.

  • Offer structure. The structure is incredibly beneficial for those transitioning from rehab back to the world. Any responsible sober house will require residents to have a job, are in school, or volunteer. Reliable sober homes also require residents to attend a certain amount of twelve-step meetings, have a sponsor, and be involved in step work.

  • Offer week-to-week lease terms. This helps residents in early recovery (who are usually in difficult financial situations) afford rent. Also, many recovery houses are more than willing to arrange payment plans.

  • Halfway houses are often affiliated with other transitional living facilities. These are places like three-quarter houses (a less structured version of halfway houses) and general sober living homes (a house where the only rule is those living there must be sober).”

Drawbacks of Halfway Houses

“Of course, the model of halfway houses lends itself to some drawbacks. Most of the time, these disadvantages arise from those trying to take advantage of these programs and those in recovery. Some problems include:

  • Not all halfway houses are responsible. Some strictly exist to make money off the newly sober. If you’re looking at sober living for yourself or a loved one, it’s essential to research and find an ethical facility.

  • Most sober living facilities are co-ed. Still, recovery houses can have a men’s section and a women’s section side-by-side.

  • Relapse Still Happens. Like any sobriety resource, some people relapse at halfway houses. The high concentration of those in early recovery makes relapse a genuine issue. If one resident relapses, it’s possible others will join them.”

Now to tackle one of the most important aspects of the different housings, rules. We all know how important those are and it goes without saying that halfway houses have these as well.

The Rules

  • Individuals must stay sober.

  • Everyone must contribute to the house by doing chores.

  • There’s no fighting or violence tolerated in the house.

  • No stealing or destroying another resident’s property.

  • Everyone must adhere to the curfew.

  • Everyone must attend either 12-step meetings or another recovery meeting.

  • Those without a job must interview for jobs.”

Where did halfway houses come from?

So where exactly did halfway houses come from? I asked that same question and went back to one of the sites I visited!

According to once again, halfway houses originated from England and there were two hope halls that were opened. Hope Hall No. 1, which was located in New York, met with great success, and Hope Hall No. 2 in Chicago soon followed as the halls were designed to reintroduce released convicts to the community, get them jobs, and nurse them back to health after serving their sentences in the disease-ridden prisons of the time. After World War II, Volunteers of America still operates Hope Hall facilities in conjunction with state correctional facilities today.

When can people be admitted into halfway houses?

Moving on to the when, of course we’d be discussing when it is that halfway houses were made and when can people be admitted into halfway houses!

Back to the same source, its said that it was in the late 18th-century that halfway houses were created! Moreover, the houses have requirements to be met for admission which had been stated in the site:

“Individuals who are considered to be at risk for harming themselves or others and those who have a history of fleeing treatment facilities are not suitable candidates for halfway house residency. Halfway houses usually require residents to be self-sufficient (e.g., hygiene and other basic self-care skills), and to be free of any severe physical impairment that would require ongoing medical care. Other requirements may exist for admittance into specific halfway house programs.”

Why halfway houses exist?

Now onto one of the most important questions, why do halfway houses even exist? I probably mentioned it already before but I’ll reiterate it once again.

As I’ve read, halfway houses focus on helping reformed convicts gain self-sufficiency and in treating those with mental disorders, thus serving as a bridge between imprisonment and society. This is one of the facilities that offer individuals transitional housing, especially to reformed convicts who are not yet able to support themselves independently. Nevertheless, it should be kept in mind that halfway houses cater not just former convicts, but also others who are homeless, while some are admitted as a requirement of a court order.

How halfway houses work?

Before we end, it’s of course, a must, that we know how these halfway houses work before we get into it. This time, it’s that has it all summarized for us!

Halfway houses are sober living communities that allow residents a greater degree of freedom than they had in detox. They perform regular drug testing on residents, provide counseling services, and generally maintain a calm, recovery type atmosphere that gives you access to community resources while you’re in your first year or two of recovery. How do halfway houses work? When are they your best option?
If someone has become homeless, lost their job, or has no access to food, it can make recovery from drug and alcohol almost impossible. For people who have hit bottom, halfway houses are almost always a good idea. Not only do you get continuing treatment for your addiction on a 24 hour a day basis, but you have access to community resources that can help you get back on your feet. In addition, halfway houses are a great idea for anyone who believes that they will relapse if they don’t have continuing care.


In early recovery, the quality of sobriety you experience may be shaky, and this is especially true if you don’t have a strong support network or housing, food, or a job. You need all of those things to build a quality sobriety, and halfway houses provide all of those right out of the gates. Halfway houses have an entire staff of people who are trained to help you rebuild your life, both emotionally and physically. Many times when someone first gets sober from a severe addiction, they have no job, no home, and no food. Each one of those things are provided for in a halfway house.
In the early stages in a halfway house, though, you’ll very likely have your days to yourself except for counseling sessions and group meetings. You’ll be free to get to know other people in the halfway house and form solid peer support networks that help you recover. Recovering clients in halfway houses are among the most dedicated to sobriety. They take it seriously, and they share their experiences with you. Residents who have been there longer can help you through all the phases in the halfway house.


Recovery is about maintaining serenity even in the face of obstacles. In the early days in a halfway house, you’ll focus on group and individual counseling sessions, but later on you’ll benefit from employment services and social workers. They can help you apply for government benefits if you’re disabled, tackle any financial issues you might have, and even help you get a job when you’re to that phase in the program that you’re allowed to work on the outside again.
It’s much easier to have serenity when you know that the people you’re sharing a home with are sober and won’t trigger thoughts of using. That’s the hallmark of the halfway house. It’s a sober community of people who have their eye on quality sobriety, not just sobriety alone. They work daily, just like you, to maintain their serenity even as they face obstacles in recovery, and they can share that helpful knowledge with you.”

After knowing all of this, what do you think about halfway houses? I still stick with my previous words where halfway housings definitely exist for a reason and may be of aid to those in need of it after all!

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