I am a person in recovery. My peers and I will all tell you that recovery houses are critical to saving lives. In Maine, these cost taxpayers nothing at all. In fact, studies show, they save taxpayers money. They help people get off the streets, get jobs, pay taxes and otherwise give back to society. So, why is one congressman proposing a bill that would reduce the availability and affordability of such houses? One word: stigma.

U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., has introduced H.R. 5724 to disenfranchise people with substance use disorder by eliminating our federally protected right to cohabitate in residential neighborhoods. To put it simply, this bill would allow cities to prohibit us from living in homes in their cities (they would presumably continue their more expensive tradition of letting us sleep outside and in shelters).

Maine municipalities already have a track record of discriminating against people who have substance use disorder. I run three recovery houses and know firsthand that many Maine cities are already not friendly to recovery. It’s sad, but it’s true. While Mainers are dying at record rates, I have witnessed shameful and lethal municipal incompetence and dereliction of duty. Now imagine if Congress eliminates federal protection for recovery-oriented housing.

If this bill passes, you can expect to see an even more disgraceful continuum of care for persons with substance use disorder. You can expect to see even more people being discharged from detox to the streets. You can expect to see many more Mainers die from drug poisoning. Please call U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree and tell her to protect the civil rights of your family, friends and neighbors who are in recovery. Tell her to vote “no” on H.R. 5724. Tell her to support #recovery and #recoveryreadycommunities.

Jesse Harvey