Requirements to Start a Halfway House

Discussing structural adaptations, planning stage
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Halfway houses provide a second chance for troubled individuals to start over. The requirements to start your house vary, depending where you are and what population of clients you choose to serve. Owning and operating your own halfway house can be a rich and rewarding experience, with many homes filling up before they even open. Whether you're in it for profit or community service, be sure to research the applicable regulations before you open your home to someone needing a new beginning.


Halfway houses are categorized depending on what type of people you would like to help. These temporary homes come in different kinds. Some help those recently released from prison; others house people overcoming drug and alcohol addictions. You could also start a halfway house that caters to people who have mental disabilities, or you could focus your home to give youth a roof over their heads. The reasons youth need a halfway house vary, but most youth halfway houses shelter orphans, runaways or victims of child abuse.


Every house needs rules, including halfway houses. Before your halfway house opens, you need to decide how many residents you want to house at any one time and at what location you would like your business to be in. You should also make a list of house rules that you want your residents to abide by. It is a good idea to have what you want to accomplish mapped out to ensure a greater possibility for success. An organized plan for the halfway house would also make a great presentation if you plan to apply for a loan or grant to get your business started.

Regulatory Environment

Depending on the jurisdiction where you operate and the clients you'll serve in your home, you may need to apply for specific licenses or permits. In some cases, you and your staff may also be required to complete formal training. Again, depending on the type of house you operate, you may be required to provide counselling on site. Where applicable, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Act Amendment make it illegal for anyone to discriminate against the people who live in halfway houses. Owners, operators and tenants are also protected from prejudice.

Some jurisdictions have rules that halfway houses can only be operated by churches or community service organizations, so be sure to check the rules. You may wish to hire an attorney to help you through the red tape in opening a halfway house.


Depending on where you decide to place your halfway house, you may have to acquire the proper zoning license. Your county board’s zoning commission will mark the house as a business and may limit the number of people allowed in any one room and any one residence. The commission may also mandate which structural adaptations – such as sprinkler lines and wheelchair-accessible entrances and parking spaces – need to be made before your halfway house is operable.

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