Halfway House Definition

Most of us have heard the term “halfway house” in some context, and the majority of people who have little firsthand experience with the environment tend to think of a run-down and somewhat dilapidated group home; one where ex-convicts and recovering drug addicts live together as they attempt to transition back into society. Halfway houses tend to be depicted a certain way in mainstream media, which is where this image is likely derived from. The truth is that a halfway house is usually a clean and comfortable living environment for men and women who are transitioning from some degree of clinical care back into fully independent living. Merriam-Webster defines a “halfway house” as:

  • The place to stop midway on a journey
  • A halfway place in a progression
  • A residence for individuals after release from institutionalization (as for mental illness, drug addiction, or criminal activity) that is designed to facilitate their readjustment to private life

Nowadays, most people who refer to a halfway house are referring to a transitional living environment for men and women who have struggled with substance abuse and dependence and who are somewhat new to sobriety. There are many names for this type of living situation outside of “halfway house,” including sober home, sober living home, and sober living. The legal definition of the term is similar – according to the official definition provided by US Legal, “ A halfway house is a residence designed to assist persons, especially those leaving institutions, to reenter society and learn to adapt to independent living. Halfway houses aim to assist in community transition, and may provide vocational training, counseling, and other services.”

Halfway House Definition

Halfway Houses and Sober Homes are Now Often Interchangeable

A halfway house always has a strict set of rules in place to help keep residents accountable and to help teach them how to function as productive members of society. For example, many halfway houses require that their residents find and maintain a part or full-time job, require that they participate in daily chores, and require that they attend support groups (like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous) regularly – usually daily. At Riverbend Residence we provide men and women with a safe and supportive environment in which they can continue along on their recovery journeys and seek guidance whenever they need it.

The History of Sober Living in a Halfway House

The history of the halfway house is quite interesting – the concept has been around since the early 18th century, though the definition has changed significantly over the years. The first halfway house was founded in 1896 and was run by Maud Ballington Booth – the co-founder of the group Volunteers of America. The first halfway house was located in New York and was exclusively for young men and women who had committed crimes and who needed some degree of reform.

Because this house was extremely successful in helping reform child criminals and helping them learn how to function as self-sufficient members of society, Booth opened a second home in Chicago not long after. By the year 1902, these two halfway houses had helped over 3000 criminals return to fully independent living after a period of incarceration.

Our New Jersey Sober Homes Welcome Men and Women

At Riverbend Residence we have quickly gained a reputation as one of the most reputable and comfortable sober living houses throughout the state of New Jersey. We have four individual homes, each is gender-specific, run by a team of experienced professionals, and staffed with men and women who have years of solid sobriety under their belts. If you have recently completed a higher level of clinical care and you are looking to move into a safe environment that will continue to bolster your recovery, we are available to help. Simply pick up the phone and give us a call, and we will begin by scheduling a time for you to stop by one of our houses and take an in-person tour. We look forward to meeting you!