Letter to the Editor: Oxford House concerns unfounded

To the Editor:

I am writing in response to an article published in the Daily Journal on September 19, 2022 titled “Carefree residents concerned about addiction recovery home.” I have spoken with Pastor Poynter, who is quoted in the article. He and I will keep talking. I write this in hopes of representing a different perspective.

I was disheartened to think how many people may be negatively impacted by the concerns expressed about an Oxford House recovery home moving into a local neighborhood. The questions I ask myself and my fellow community members are: If people can’t find shelter and recovery here in our county, then where? If not in our neighborhoods, then where else? If not as our neighbors, then with whom?

I believe having members of an Oxford House as neighbors may, in fact, enhance safety and security in a neighborhood. According to the Oxford House Manual, which is transparent and easily accessible on their website, a prospective resident must fill out an application, be interviewed and approved by 80% of the existing residents. Once in the house, if a person is suspected to have used drugs or alcohol, there is a clear process outlined in the manual in which that person is confronted with the facts that led to the suspicion of their relapse, and if it is determined that the person did use drugs or alcohol, “expulsion of that member is automatic.”

Oxford Houses promote a rigorous culture of honesty, accountability and results. The Nine Traditions stated in the Oxford House Manual outline this. Residents will participate in a program such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. They will work steps. They will make searching, fearless moral inventories. They will pray the Serenity Prayer. They will recover at a very high rate–as the article points out–and they will be some of the most self-aware, servant-minded residents in the neighborhood. These attributes keep them alive, and I would welcome them as my neighbors.

These residents have proven to be good neighbors in that neighborhood, as there has already been another Oxford House there for a few years.

The concerns shared in the article further deadly stigmas. It makes access to recovery more difficult than it already is. I have one friend who lived in the Oxford House that already exists in that neighborhood after he relapsed. He is sober today, nearly two years later. He now works as a peer recovery coach. Another friend, who is also a peer recovery coach, was celebrating that an Oxford House came to Greenwood. He told me, “Those who were seeking a recovery house like Oxford and a safe, stable environment often had to go to Indianapolis, and as recently as several years ago, there were few recovery residences in Indianapolis that had months-long waits because they were so full.” These two friends attend a weekly recovery meeting at our church, and they are some of the best people I know.

Ultimately, my perspective is rooted in my belief about what Jesus would do. Jesus moved into neighborhoods where there were people left out and needing healing. He sat and spoke with enemies in broad daylight. He ate lunch with lepers who weren’t allowed to go to a place of worship anymore. When I consider all of this, I believe if Jesus were here, he would make his home somewhere near or perhaps even inside a recovery house.

Ross Stackhouse


Pastor, HeavenEarth Church