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New financial incentive aims to encourage employers to give recovering addicts a second chance

Posted at 5:10 PM, Apr 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-04 17:10:47-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A new $2 million tax incentive program offers a "recovery tax credit" to employers.

As long as they hire former-addicts trying to get back on their feet, they could get up to $2,000 in tax credits.

According to state numbers there were more than 65-thousand people enrolled in treatment programs for substance abuse in 2017.

"Clearly employment is a very important part of recovery, that everyone wants an opportunity to get back on the work force and be productive," said Dr. Howard Hitzel, President & CEO of Best Self Behavioral Health

To qualify for a tax credit of up to $2,000, a recovering addict has to work at least 500 hours a year.

Best Self is a not-for-profit, so they won't be taking part in the incentive program.

But they have a number of people in recovery who work at their organization.

One of them Deadra Smith, who works as a peer advocate.

"I wanted to work, I wanted to learn and I wanted to earn. It was very important for me to live right," she said.

The subsidy is part of the recently passed state budget.

It's also an incentive to help counter reluctance by employers to hire people recovering from addiction.

"For those who are hesitant, I would ask them to breathe. It's okay, you can't catch the disease of addiction, it's not contagious, " said Smith. "They should be open-minded and be willing."

Any employer can participate.