Foreign investors looking to land a coveted US green card have financed luxury apartments in the up-and-coming Fenway, hotels in Manhattan, ski resorts in Vermont, and Miami’s version of the Eiffel Tower. Now, they are increasingly pouring their money into a less glitzy but thriving industry: drug rehabilitation and psychiatric clinics.
With opioid addiction continuing to claim thousands of lives and hospitals swamped with patients seeking help, wealthy investors from China to South America are making a financial bet that private substance abuse and mental health facilities may be their best pathway to a US visa.
In Devens, a 104-bed behavioral health and substance abuse center is being financed, in part, with $10 million from foreign investors through the EB-5 immigration program. Recovery Centers of America, a Pennsylvania company with plans to open eight inpatient facilities on the East Coast, including one in Danvers, is soliciting immigrant investors. And in Baltimore, an addiction clinic opened earlier this year with money from the EB-5 program.
The $35 billion-a-year addiction treatment industry is gaining more attention from investors of all sizes, including private equity giants like Boston-based Bain Capital, which owns the largest chain of detox clinics in Massachusetts. Large investors are capitalizing on the increasing demand, changes in health care law, and opportunities to scoop up smaller facilities, reduce their costs, and sell them at a profit.