Halfway House Law & Legal Definition


A halfway house is a residence designed to assist persons, especially those leaving institutions, to reenter society and learn to adapt to independent living. Halfway houses aim to assist in community transition, and may provide vocational training, couseling, and other services. Release to a halfway house is used in situations such as the release of mental patients and prisoners. They are also used for people in addiction recovery as a means to adapt to sober living. They usually require residents to follow certain rules, such as sign in and sign out procedures and curfews. A halfway house may allow residents to go out to work or study during daytime and return at night. Residency requirements, purposes, and rules vary at each halfway house.

The Federal Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful “to discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with such dwelling because of a handicap.” Also, the Americans With Disabilities Act describes alcoholics/drug addicts as people with disabilities. Therefore, zoning laws which are used to discriminate against halfway houses may be in violation of these laws. In order to open a halfway house, a clear set of rules should be established for residents and local regulations and zoning must be investigated and complied with. There is often community opposition to halfway houses, so support from local politicians and media plays an important role.