Oxford House is a ‘no-show’ at neighborhood meeting on new sober living home

NOW: Oxford House is a ‘no-show’ at neighborhood meeting on new sober living home

SOUTH BEND, Ind. —- Inside a neighborhood meeting on Wednesday night, people from Council Oak Drive asked city and county administration about an upcoming sober living home called Oxford House.

Officials with the addiction housing provider announced they planned to open a men’s sober living home on Council Oak Dr. on April 1. According to its website, Oxford House creates an effective recovery network one House at a time.

However, neighbors expressed concerns tonight at the County City Building, that because of a lack of notice and communication from Oxford House, the home might not fit their neighborhood. During the meeting, neighbors told administrators there are already two Oxford Houses listed as operating in South Bend on North Lafayette Boulevard and Cleveland Road.

“But this is a business right,” asked one concerned neighbor. 

People asked many questions about Oxford House, but the group declined an invitation to the Wednesday’s meeting. 

“The local person that they hired to facilitate this is here but they said that person isn’t going to come,” said Tim Scott, District 1 South Bend Common Council member. 

So neighbors turned to city leaders for those answers. Scott said he asked the City of South Bend on March 11 to reach out to the Oxford House. 

“We haven’t reached out to the Oxford House yet,” said Laura O’ Sullivan, Chief of Staff for the Mayor’s Office. “We’re speaking with our legal counsel about what the laws are and what we can and cannot do.”

O’Sullivan said she will connect with Scott on Thursday so they can put a timeline together.

On Wednesday, city attorney Ala Dean DeRose explained reasonable accommodation to the neighbors. Reasonable accommodation is a modification or waiver of zoning requirements, rules, policies or practices if it is is reasonable and necessary to give a person with disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. 

Oxford House would be eligible for a reasonable accommodation because the residents have legal disabilities being their addiction. 

Officials with the St. Joseph County Area Plan Commission said they sent Oxford House a courtesy letter to apply for a reasonable accommodation, but SJCAPC said they have not received anything back. 

“Give is some ideas and tools of what we can do to help our neighborhood,” said another concerned neighbor. 

Some neighbors said they feel Oxford House does not care about being a good neighbor. Mike Hamann, who lives in the neighborhood, said he pleads with the group to engage with the public. 

“Come here, please answer our questions,” he said. “These are good folks, we want to help these folks who are vulnerable and need the services but you’ve got to talk to us.”

ABC 57 News reached out to Oxford House for this story but did not get a response. Scott said he plans on getting an update to his neighbors by next Thursday.

Click here for more information on Oxford House. 

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