Halfway House

A halfway house is a residential facility designed to help people transition into independent living. Its name indicates its status as “halfway” between an institution such as jail or a psychiatric hospital and complete independent living in a home or apartment.


What is a Halfway House?
Halfway houses were originally developed as transitional living facilities for people struggling with addiction. Often, people living in halfway houses were ex-convicts who were required to live in the home as part of their parole or probation, or who opted to live in the halfway house because they had nowhere else to go. However, the definition of halfway house has been greatly expanded in recent years, and there are now halfway houses for people struggling with a variety of issues, including:

  • Peer support centers, which are residential facilities where several people struggling with the same issue–such as mental health concerns or addiction–choose to live together and support one another
  • Mental health halfway houses, designed to help people with mental health conditions transition back into the community. These facilities are increasingly popular after the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision ruled that people with mental illnesses have the right to live in the least restrictive settings possible.
  • Court-mandated halfway houses that may include therapy, drug testing, and other court-mandated programs for people enrolled in drug court and mental health court, as well as juveniles involved in the juvenile court system


Halfway Houses and Mental Health
People tend to feel better when they can get support from people who have faced the same issues they have. Consequently, halfway houses can be valuable tools in helping people struggling with addiction, mental health diagnoses, and other psychological issues. Well-run halfway houses can help people transition to independent living and learn important life skills.


Many communities have attempted to remove halfway houses due to fears that the people residing in them are dangerous, and some facilities struggle to retain funding and meet zoning requirements.



  1. Friedman, M. (2012, June 29). Supreme Court decision benefits people with mental illness. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-friedman-lmsw/aca-mental-health_b_1636839.html
  2. Halfway houses. (n.d.). Halfway House. Retrieved from http://halfwayhouse.com/
  3. Peer support, wellness and respite centers in Georgia. (n.d.). Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network. Retrieved from http://www.gmhcn.org/wellnesscenter/

Last Updated: 02-5-2013

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