Quincy event highlighted need for additional facilities, supports for individuals in recovery 

For Immediate Release: 4-28-22 

Contact: Peter Jasinski | peter.jasinski@masenate.gov 

BOSTON – Sen. John F. Keenan joined representatives of recovery agencies Wednesday evening to call upon state and community leaders to increase the number of sober housing facilities in Massachusetts, as well as increasing resources for existing facilities.  

“We recognize that the road to recovery can be long and difficult, so we need to do our part to lighten the loads of those traveling it,” said Sen. Keenan. “If we want people to be successful in recovery, we need to make sure we have the services that are proven to be hugely beneficial in helping people avoid substances and establish healthy habits.” 

Sober homes advocates, including representatives of the Massachusetts Alliance for Sober Housing (MASH), gathered in Quincy Wednesday evening for a Sober Housing Sumit to highlight existing needs and celebrate recent accomplishments within the recovery community. Sen. Keenan and MASH collaborated earlier this legislative session to appropriate funds for the installation of new fire supression systems in sober homes across the Commonwealth.  

In recognition of his work in advancing the cause of recovery, Sen. Keenan was recognized by MASH Wednesday evening with the organization’s Charles Yetman Leadership Award. In receiving the award, Keenan thanked MASH and spoke of Charles Yetman and his lifetime work helping people who struggle with addiction. “Charlie did so much to give help and hope to others,” noted Keenan, “and it is truly an honor to receive the award named in his memory.” 

“Sober housing is saving lives and provides peer-based support on the road to recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol,” said MASH Executive Director, Mike Jones. “We are proud to present The MASH Charles Yetman Leadership Award to Senator John Keenan for advancing the cause of sober housing in Massachusetts.” 

Sen. Keenan’s involvement with sober homes came about as a result of a complaint brought forward by a friend about the operation and questionable practices at a local sober home. At the same time, Representative Liz Malia of Boston was receiving similar complaints. Under federal laws, sober homes are exempt from regulation, so Sen. Keenan filed legislation to set up a state certification program and worked with Rep. Malia to get the bill passed. The bill created what is now MASH. Since then, 188 sober homes throughout Massachusetts have been officially certified by MASH, which functions as the state’s official certifying body for such facilities. 

“While Massachusetts fares better compared to other states in terms of offering sober housing, our current efforts do not meet the current demand,” said Sen. Keenan. “There is an enormous need for this type of housing in our communities, serving our family members, friends, and neighbors, so it is important that when it comes to opening more housing or finding new locations, we ensure that the homes are safe and well-operated. MASH works to make this happen.” 

MASH was formed in 2015 initially to represent just 11 sober houses. Homes certified by the organization provide safe and dignified housing with peer-based recovery principles for the sick and suffering recovering from addiction. In addition to certifying housing, the non-profit also provides training, housing member services, grievance management, scholarships and rental assistance to Massachusetts sober homes. 

“Sober housing provides a safe and dignified environment for residents of the Commonwealth who are sick and suffering from the scourge of addiction,” said MASH Board of Directors President Billy Berneburg. “This Sober Housing Summit will help the owners and operators of Certified Sober Homes in Massachusetts provide the best opportunities for the population they serve in recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol.” 

The rental assistance program facilitated by MASH came into existence less than three years ago to foster sobriety amongst economically disadvantaged applicants seeking sober living. Simultaneously, the MASH Probation/Parole Grant was established to help individuals transition out of incarceration. To date, more than $1.5 million in funds have been disbursed under these programs to MASH Certified Sober Homes, with an additional $300,000 planned for this fiscal year.