Three-Quarter Houses

A three-quarter house is a transitional housing unit that provides a lower level of supervision than a traditional halfway house. These sober living environments are unregulated, and the term three-quarter house has been associated with corruption in some cities. Reputable three-quarter houses can help people transition out of treatment, but some homes prioritize profits over patrons.
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Living in a three-quarter house is one of the last steps a person in recovery can take before transitioning back to regular life. One of the biggest risk factors for relapse is exposure to high-risk situations. Sober living homes, a broad term that includes halfway houses and three-quarter houses, protect people in early stages of recovery. Sober homes provide an environment of support and accountability.

Many people transition into highly structured sober living homes or halfway houses after treatment. These homes usually provide access to counseling services, support group meetings, employment resources and training programs. They also keep residents accountable by imposing strict rules, curfews and drug tests.

Three-quarter houses provide fewer resources and less accountability. Alcohol and other drugs are still forbidden, but residents usually aren’t drug tested. Support group attendance is voluntary, but residents often support one another. The homes allow residents to exercise more freedom as they get used to living without intensive support.

Unlike halfway houses, most three-quarter houses are unregulated. Some corrupt homeowners take advantage of the lack of oversight. They force multiple people to live in rooms designed for one or two people. Some landlords have been accused of forcing tenants to attend rehab and of accepting referral fees from questionable rehab facilities.

While sober living homes are usually reserved for people in recovery from addiction, some three-quarter houses also provide housing for individuals with other mental health issues. People trying to avoid homelessness may also live in three-quarter homes. Some three-quarter homes may feel more like a homeless shelter than a sober living environment.

Individuals looking for sober living homes have to decipher between houses designed to aid people in recovery and houses run by a landlord with bad intentions. Respectable three-quarter houses are useful resources. Shoddy homes can hinder recovery.

Why Three-Quarter Houses Are Vulnerable to Corruption

When choosing any type of addiction treatment facility or recovery resource, you have to beware of individuals trying to take advantage of you. Reputable treatment facilities have state licenses and accreditations. Halfway houses are regulated in most states. They have to adhere to minimum standards and provide certain resources.

Three-quarter houses don’t have to follow the same rules. Some sober living homes are certified by governing bodies, such as affiliates of the National Alliance for Recovery Residences.

However, few three-quarter houses provide the standards of care required for certification. And most people looking for three-quarter homes desire more freedom than certified recovery residences allow. The lack of oversight allows dishonest businesses to take advantage of residents.

In 2015, The New York Times reported that an estimated 600 three-quarter houses existed in Brooklyn, New York. Many of the homes violated building codes and were infested with pests. Some house managers turned a blind eye to drug use.

But many reputable New York organizations, including hospitals, shelters and the state’s department of corrections, referred individuals to unregulated three-quarter houses. Homes designed for five people actually housed 10. One home owner collected disability checks and treatment kickbacks for rent payment, according to the New York Times investigation.

New York City passed several laws to regulate three-quarter houses and protect residents in 2017. But few other cities or states have done the same. In many cities and states, residents don’t have a way to ensure that landlords will live up to their promises unless they’re clearly outlined in a lease.

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How to Choose a Good Three-Quarter House

In general, you have to spend time asking questions and investigating to determine if a particular three-quarter house is right for you. You should talk to landlords, residents and neighbors about the homes before signing any paperwork. Look for red flags, such as landlords who have a history of bullying behavior, intimidation tactics or threatening remarks.

If you don’t know where to begin, you can ask for referrals from health providers, rehab facilities or government agencies. But realize that many organizations refer people to homes to which they’ve never been.

Some Oxford Houses may be considered three-quarter houses. Oxford Houses are peer-run sober homes that rarely require drug tests or outpatient treatment attendance. An online directory is available on the Oxford House website.

Most Oxford Houses do require some form of support group meeting participation and permanent employment. But residents make the rules, so the amount of freedom and accountability varies from house to house.

The safest bet is to move into a three-quarter home run by an organization that you already know and trust. Some three-quarter houses are located next to halfway houses. If you’re moving out of a halfway house or another type of sober living home, ask the organization if it also operates three-quarter houses.

In general, three-quarter houses that are reserved for people in recovery are more likely to benefit you than three-quarter homes open to anyone looking for housing. Residents who have experience with recovery from addiction are more likely than people who do not have recovery experience to be capable of providing support to their peers.

Medical Disclaimer: aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

Chris Elkins, MA
Senior Content Writer,
Chris Elkins worked as a journalist for three years and was published by multiple newspapers and online publications. Since 2015, he’s written about health-related topics, interviewed addiction experts and authored stories of recovery. Chris has a master’s degree in strategic communication and a graduate certificate in health communication.

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