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Reasonable Accommodation Process for a Sober House

Sec. 65.160 of the Legislative Code defines a sober house as follows:

A dwelling unit occupied by more than four persons, all of whom are in recovery from chemical dependency and considered handicapped under the Federal Fair Housing Act Amendments of 1988. It provides a non-institutional residential environment in which the residents willingly subject themselves to written rules and conditions, including prohibition of alcohol and drug use (except for prescription medications obtained and used under medical supervision), intended to encourage and sustain their recovery. The residents of a sober house are similar to a family unit, and share kitchen and bathroom facilities and other common areas of the unit. Sober houses are financially self-supporting. This definition does not include facilities that receive operating revenue from governmental sources. Sober houses do not provide on-site supportive services to residents, including the following: mental health services; clinical rehabilitation services; social services; medical, dental, nutritional and other health care services; financial management services; legal services; vocational services; and other similar supportive services.

While the City has a legitimate interest in preserving the character of its residential neighborhoods through laws that regulate structures, land uses, number of persons occupying a dwelling unit, and off-street parking, the City is committed to ensuring that its regulations are not applied so as to prevent it from making reasonable accommodation as required by the Federal Fair Housing Act Amendments of 1988.

In order to make the reasonable accommodation process work, the applicant has an important role.

Applicant's Role

Any person having ownership or leasehold or interested in the subject land or building is eligible to file an application for a sober house.

The applicant (owner, manager or resident representative) of a proposed sober house submits an application form to the Department of Safety and Inspections, c/o Zoning Administrator, 375 Jackson Street, Suite 220, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55101. Forms are available from the Zoning Office. The following information is required to be submitted:
  1. Request for Reasonable Accommodation form, including a written explanation of how the proposed accommodation would benefit persons with a disability, and why it is necessary to meet their particular needs
  2. Sober House Addendum to Request for Reasonable Accommodation form, including information to help City staff determine if the proposed sober house is in conformance with Sec. 65.160 of the Legislative Code.
  3. The required filing fee of $355.00


  1. The applicant will notify the zoning staff of their intent to open a sober house in Saint Paul.
  2. The zoning staff will give the applicant the required forms to be completed.
  3. Once completed and returned with the required filing fee to zoning staff, the Zoning Administrator will review the forms and other information submitted by the applicant for their conformance with the standards outlined in Sec. 65.160. If the application is incomplete, the Zoning Administrator may request additional information to be submitted.
  4. The Zoning Administrator will approve or deny the application. The applicant will be informed of the Zoning Administrator decision in a letter. The applicant or any affected persons may appeal the Zoning Administrator decision to the Board of Zoning Appeals within 10 days after the decision is made. There is a fee for appeals.

If you have any questions, please contact:

Zoning Office
375 Jackson Street, Suite 220
Saint Paul, MN 55101
Ph: (651) 266 - 9008

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