Everyone in recovery has the right to safe and livable housing in Massachusetts, whether you are looking to rent or own, or to live in certified sober housing. In any phase of recovery, housing is important in making a person feel safe and connected to their community. You have rights and protections through all stages of getting and keeping your housing. 

  • Sober Homes, also known as alcohol- and drug-free housing, can offer people in recovery a safe and positive environment where they pay rent. These group living homes ensure that people in recovery are not alone, and they can share their success and support with others reaching for the same goal. See the list of accredited Sober Homes here.  
  • The Massachusetts Fair Housing law prohibits discrimination in housing because of race, religion, nationality, age, ancestry, military background or service, gender, gender identity, sexuality, marital status, familial status (for example, if you have children), source of income (for example, a Section 8 voucher or RAFT), or disability. Under this law, a person in treatment and on medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD), for example, cannot be denied housing. 

Rights / Advocacy Tips 

  • A landlord cannot evict you, only a judge can. You may receive a “Notice to Quit,” but that does not mean you need to leave your housing. This also applies to certified sober housing units.   
  • Know what to look for when it comes to housing discrimination. It can be subtle and difficult to name. Some examples can include: 
    • You call and get an appointment to look at a house, but when you get there, you are told that the house was just sold or rented. 
    • You are told that the apartment you are looking at has been rented, but you see the posting still active on housing sites. 
    • You are told a higher selling price than what was advertised, or what you hear others being told. 
    • You are given different terms or conditions for signing a lease than other applicants. 
    • You are only shown homes in certain parts of town. 
    • You are not given the opportunity to negotiate. 
    • You are told that housing vouchers are not accepted by the landlord, or you see an advertisement that says, “people with vouchers cannot apply.” 
    • You face harassment, intimidation, or questions about your ability to pay rent on time.  
  • If you believe you are being discriminated against, you have the right to file a claim to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the  Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office Civil Rights Division, or your local Fair Housing Task Force. 
    • If you were convicted before on drug-related charges, you may be told you are not eligible for public, or federally assisted housing. This ineligibility usually lasts for 3 years after you leave incarceration. A public housing agency can lift or shorten that time period if you successfully complete a rehabilitation program. However, depending on the charge, some individuals may still not qualify for federally assisted housing unless they can present an argument for changed behavior. This includes: 
      • Individuals who have been convicted of drug-related criminal activity involving the manufacture or production of methamphetamine on the premises of federally assisted housing.   
      • Individuals charged with violence-related activity that may pose a risk to the safety or well-being of other tenants. 


  • City Life/ Vida Urbana has a hotline for people who are facing evictions and a list of resources for those looking for housing support.  
  • Find certified sober homes in Massachusetts. If you are in sober housing already and need to file a grievance (complaint), you can do so here.   
  • If you believe you have been discriminated against, Mass Access can help you file a claim, investigate the realtor, and link you to further resources.  
  • The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination also has resources for people who experience discrimination.  
  • The Attorney General’s Civil Rights Division has a Know Your Rights resource for income-based housing discrimination.