1.D.11.a. Priority population


Policies and procedures that serve the priority population, which at a minimum include persons in recovery from substance use but may also include other demographic criteria.








  • Applicant screening and priority populations – Most recovery residences are considered housing, which begs the question, “How can recovery housing legally screen out applicants in ways that other housing cannot?” Recovery housing is designed for persons in recovery from substance use issues, which is a subgroup of “disabled” individuals as defined by civil rights laws. Research shows that living together in recovery housing can ameliorate the disability caused by substance use disorder. In other words, recovery residences “screen in” the priority population. To ensure that this resource is available, recovery residences identify a priority population they serve. The courts have also recognized the need to screen based on other criteria: e.g. gender. Across the US there are numerous recovery residences that specialize in women and children, LGBT, co-occuring mental health or process disorder and more. Disclaimer: NARR does not provide legal advice. Recovery residence providers should see legal counsel regarding screening policies and procedures.

  • Staffing and governance plan – Granted, recovery residences are about transplanting someone from a culture of addiction into a culture of recovery. However, staff should have a sensitivity and responsiveness to the fact that residents can come from a multitude of geographic, socio-economic, religious, racial, ethnic and self-identity backgrounds. Furthermore, recovery residences that claim to specialize in a subpopulation, such as women or LGBT, should have a staffing and governance plan that reflects a competence and cultural responsiveness in supporting the priority population. It is not to say that a person who identifies as heterosexual cannot staff an LGBT recovery home, but what in the staffing and governance plan demonstrates that the recovery residence is culturally responsive to this target population’s needs.

  • Service plan – Similar to appropriate staffing and governance discussed above, recovery residences must have a service plan and/or activities that reflect the priority population’s needs and culture.


  • Are there policies and procedures that identify the priority population?

    • At a minimum, is the priority population persons in recovery (pursuing recovery) from substance use issues?

  • Do staff and leadership reflect the priority population and/or trained in cultural responsiveness?


  • Policy and procedure

  • Staff / Peer leadership role description

  • Workforce development


Course Syllabus

  • NARR 3.0 | 1.D.11.a. Priority population