Governor issues letter critical of Oxford House



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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Gov. Phil Bryant is asking the Mississippi Department of Mental Health to stop providing money to help Oxford House Inc. open group homes in the state for recovering alcoholics and former drug addicts.

The Clarion-Ledger reports (http://on.thec-l.com/1c7wwKk ) controversy erupted in April after Oxford House opened a house in northeast Jackson. Residents raised concerns about children safety and property values with the group home in their neighborhood.

In his May 20 letter to mental health officials, Bryant said Oxford House "has been more focused on expanding its footprint in Mississippi than on providing the time, peer support and living environment necessary to support long-term recovery for existing residents."

Oxford House is based in a Silver Spring, Maryland. It helps find housing for alcoholics and drug addicts.

Mental Health Department spokeswoman Wendy Bailey has said the department provides grants to Oxford House through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. She said the grants provide seed money for an Oxford House to be established and funds four outreach workers.

To date, all Oxford Houses have received a grant for up to $4,000 per House as seed money to establish the House, Bailey said. No money is provided to any resident. The seed money is revolving — each Oxford House is required to repay the money which is used again to establish another Oxford House.

"Oxford Houses are homes — not facilities. DMH does not regulate homes," Bailey said. "No direct therapeutic services are provided in Oxford Houses."

Oxford House is now listing 15 houses in Mississippi with the new one in Jackson and a new one on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Bailey said six more Oxford Houses are expected to open by the end of this year.

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Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, http://www.clarionledger.com

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Associated Press

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