/ April 20, 2023

CAADPE-HealthRight 360-Sponsored Bill to Outlaw Housing Discrimination For MAT Passes the Assembly Judiciary Committee

AB 1339

 CAADPE Position: Support 

Last week, AB 1339 passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee on a unanimous, bipartisan vote. The bill, co-sponsored by CAADPE and HealthRight360, revises the definition of disability to include a person receiving medications for addiction treatment (MAT), and applies that definition to provisions prohibiting housing discrimination. The bill clarifies existing federal fair housing law, and prohibits housing providers who accept state funding from discriminating against individuals on MAT.

Vitka Eisen, CEO of HealthRight360, and CAADPE Executive Director, Robb Layne testified in support of the bill at the committee hearing. They noted that deaths related to drug overdose significantly increased during the pandemic, and that MAT is one of the most effective treatments for substance use disorders. However, for some individuals with SUD, the most effective treatment option is also the most significant barrier to finding a place to live, because some
housing programs will not accept clients on MAT. This includes some recovery housing programs that receive public Medicaid dollars, but deny admission based on someone’s MAT status because they are not “clean and sober.”

Many justice-involved individuals who face this discrimination were actually prescribed MAT during their incarceration, and MAT is part of their pre-release program. Being denied housing could not only force these clients back into withdrawal symptoms, but also puts them at risk of becoming one more of the 115,000 unhoused individuals in California. They could sue under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, but they are more concerned with finding housing than getting involved in litigation to combat discrimination. AB 1339 will help provide access to housing for individuals with MAT by prohibiting discrimination within publicly-funded housing programs.

AB 1339 moves now to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

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