Oxford House

The autonomous halfway-house movement of the 1990s, Oxford House, Inc., owes its momentum to J. Paul Molloy, who in 1975 established the first

Volunteer medics sort through medicine donations to the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic, a clinic specializing in the treatment of young drug users. San Francisco, July 1967. (© Ted Streshinsky/CORBIS)

Oxford House in Silver Spring, Maryland. The stimulus for this first house was a decision by the state of Maryland to save money by closing a publicly-supported halfway house. The men living in it decided to rent and operate the facility themselves. Operated democratically, residents of the house determined how much each would have to pay to cover expenses, developed a manual of operations, and agreed to evict anyone who returned to substance use. When the first Oxford House found itself with a surplus of funds, the residents decided to use the money to rent another house and expand the concept. Each subsequent house followed suit. There are now separate houses for men and women. In 2000, there were approximately 350 houses in North America.

While not affiliated in any way with AA or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), the principles of these groups are integral to the operation of each Oxford House. Individuals can remain in residence as long as needed to become stably sober. The average length of stay is thirteen months.

Although a recovery house can be self-run and self-supported without being an Oxford House, if it wishes to affiliate, it must file an application for a charter with Oxford House, Inc. (9314 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, Maryland 20907). Oxford House, Inc., a nonprofit corporation, does not own property, but helps groups wanting to start a new house.

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