Law Legal

Legal Requirements for Starting A Halfway House In Tennessee

The fact that halfway housing provides a conducive environment for people recovering from drug addiction or reintegrating into society after incarceration makes it one of the best social entrepreneurship opportunities in the United States.

Running a halfway house can be a satisfying undertaking. Depending on your motivation, you can also use your home to accommodate the homeless or people with mental disabilities or victims of gender-based violence.

Starting A Halfway House In Tennessee

However, legal requirements remain one of the most important factors to consider while planning to establish your own halfway house. The laws differ as you move from one state to the other. So, before beginning a halfway home, you should be informed of the appropriate regulations in your state.

If you plan to start a halfway house in Tennessee, you will be needed to fulfill the following requirements to operate successfully.

Licensing requirements

Depending on the category of people you are dealing with, you are required to get a license of operation in the state of Tennessee.

If you are planning to establish a halfway home that takes care of mentally ill patients or those battling substance use disorder, you will be required to get your license through the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (DMHSAS).

Not every community is receptive to halfway operations, and having a legitimate permit will save them from unprecedented frustrations. Again, no one will be willing to register their loved one in a facility that is not licensed.

Housing regulations

Before you open your halfway house, you need to ensure enough space to accommodate the number of residents you expect to host. A room should have at least 60 square feet per resident.

If you plan to run a single-family home that can accommodate six people, you need a three-bedroom halfway house to sort out the issue. The law also requires halfway houses to have adequate bathrooms for the residents.

However, the arrangement will be different when you are handling a more significant number of people. Where you need more than four individuals in one bedroom, have a dorm-like setting that fulfills the spacing regulation. Make sure every resident has a personal bed and clean bedding to prevent the emergence of infections.

Other essential requirements include having one private and well-ventilated bathroom for every six people, a shower for every six people, and a lavatory for every six residents and the available staff within the facility. Depending on the category of people you are hosting, you should ensure the dining area and furniture present suit their needs.

The level of hygiene should be high to prevent the transfer of infections among the residents. There should be enough plates for everyone during serving. All dry foods and goods should be stored appropriately to avoid contamination.

Zoning Regulations

Once you have identified a perfect location for your halfway home establishment, you need to acquire a zoning license from the municipal planning commission to enhance your operations without any problem.

The commission will tell you whether halfway establishments are allowed in the place, the number of stories, and the size of the building permitted, whether in the residential or commercial area.

The commission will also tell you the number of residents you are allowed to host. If you are dealing with people with disabilities, the commission will describe the structural requirement you need to comply with before you start admission of residents. These regulations may include parking spaces and wheelchair-accessible paths for efficient movements within the home.

Environmental Regulations

Make your home provide a conducive environment for your residents. The house should be well ventilated and cleaned regularly. Arrange with garbage collectors to collect available garbage to avoid any foul smell within the compound. Schedule best housekeeping practices with your employees to prevent the presence of lice, bed bugs, and fleas that can cause diseases to residents.

The house structure should be well maintained to prevent any potential dangers to the residents, especially the disabled. Make floors are in good condition and wheelchair ramps fixed in designated places to ease their movement.

Remember you are dealing with people battling substance abuse disorder or are mentally ill, so there is a high chance of an accident that can put the whole residence at risk, for instance, a fire breakout.

You need to ensure that an adequate telephone system is available and put in strategic places within the facility. Sufficient first aid kits that meet the Red Cross standards should be provided to solve any health emergency that may arise.

Transport Regulations

Your residents will need to move from one place to another depending on the need, for instance, attending conditional meetings between residents and the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) or substance abuse treatment appointments.

So you need to ensure that your vehicles are well maintained and operated safely. Hire a qualified driver with a legitimate driver’s license from the Tennessee Department of Safety.

People with disabilities must also be taken into account by designing specific vehicles to suit their needs. Ensure the folding ramp is fixed inside low floor vans or buses to allow access to mobility aid users.

The vehicle should have sufficient space to park wheelchairs with the provision of safety belts to enhance safety during the journey. The vehicles must be insured by a licensed and financially stable auto-insurance company in case of personal injuries.

Gender and Rights of Residents

The law allows you to host both genders if you can afford it, but they must stay in different homes to avoid potential violations right to privacy and sexual harassment.

You are required to uphold the rights of residents, including the right to enough food and water, treatment, and religious activities of their own choice. They should be permitted to meet their TDOC supervisor for whatever reason they may bring forth.

About the author

Mie Lone