This website -- with its enclosed "cookbook" -- is the result of a sudden awakening. It began in 2003 when a former Planning & Zoning Commissioner who worked as a professional real estate counselor visited a residential "treatment facility"; there, he learned about the shortage of affordable "special needs housing". Soon afterward, he visited an "Oxford House." After reviewing the needs of many different groups of unfortunate people who have experienced challenges that complicated their lives (including treatment center patients), he realized the Oxford House model is easily adapted to solve the problems of many different populations in need of transitional or supportive housing environments throughout Alaska. The conclusion: Here is a cost-effective, self-supporting solution that fits many different situations, one that does not rely on grants or annual subsidies!
The realization started with a visit to the Ernie Turner Center in Anchorage, Alaska. It is a residential treatment facility for Alaska Natives afflicted with alcoholism and related problems. We now know the main threat to recovery for one who wants to return to a normal, healthy condition is the lack of suitable housing choices. This realization sparked our investigation. Here is what we learned:
Alcoholics, and those with other afflictions, have a better chance of recovering if there is a decent home available, one with a safe, affordable, supportive environment. Recovery brings a major improvement in the lives of many people -- the afflicted individuals, their families, their friends, and countless others. The costs to the community go down and personal income rises.
Recovery requires change. Going "back home" to the same old environment virtually assures "relapse," falling back into a former state. Upon completion of a treatment program, only one thing has changed. The individual has new knowledge and beliefs that will lead to a much-improved life -- if they are persistently applied. On the other hand, return to a troubled environment means snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Good housing and a supportive environment make a huge difference between success and failure.
Recovery requires a good post-treatment environment. Most graduates of treatment centers can get a decent job -- IF they have a warm, dry, safe bed in a proper, well-located house that offers telephone service and a good mailing address. Continuing progress requires a positive environment.
The Oxford House Model is a good solution for those in transition from one lifestyle to the next. The typical Anchorage Oxford House is an upscale home located in a good or very good suburban neighborhood. Everyone living in the house is "in recovery," dealing constructively with challenges that overwhelmed their lives. There are few rules in Oxford Houses; residents pay rent, do normal household chores,keep the house in good order, emphasize positive changes in their lifestyles (i.e. avoid alcohol and illicit drugs and destructive behaviors). In addition, the residents support one another in making progress toward lofty ideals -- just as you expect most middle-class families would. There are few other rules in such houses; rules adopted by the House foster a cooperative, supportive environment so each member can live life as well as they can. We believe that, by adopting and adapting the Oxford House Model, you can serve the needs of many different people.
The website of the Corporation For Supportive Housing (CSH) provides valuable information about "Supportive Housing". Their website and freely available resource material contain a wealth of information you can download and print out conveniently. Be sure to look at the CSH website, especially the "Resource" library at www.csh.org.
"Transitional Housing" is temporary Supportive housing -- for people who are changing -- usually for the better, but also for people suffering from problems that get worse with time--dementias, including Alzheimer's disease and other chronic illnesses, or the challenges associated with aging. Oxford Houses target people who plan to live in their house "temporarily" -- usually expecting a 90-day stay. In practice, many Oxford House members find the house so pleasant, their average stay is about 15 months! There is no limit how long a member can remain (so long as he abides by the rules of the house). As a result, some "Oxfordites" stay in the houses for ten or more years.
The Oxford House "Model" can be adapted to a wide range of applications -- there are literally thousands of highly motivated Alaskans with special needs who, with modest help, can afford to pay their own way IF they can rent their share of a good home with others who are similarly situated or otherwise compatible. By developing "themes and variations" of the Oxford House model, it becomes possible to create homes that meet the needs of the residents and the community in virtually every village, town, and city of Alaska. Naturally, this notion of adaptation can apply to many other communities -- in the U.S. and even internationally. There are Oxford Houses in Canada, Australia, and elsewhere (See www.oxfordhouse.org).
To learn more about how to create a supportive house or transitional home in your community, check out the "Supportive Housing Cookbook" on this website.
By browsing this website, you will learn how to gather the knowledge and money to create a "house." You will see how you can create a house in your neighborhood in less than 90 days -- without any substantial government grants.
You will find information on this website that shows how to get the affordable technical assistance and professional expertise you need. Your organization can have a "turn-key" house operating within a few months!
Our goal is to find and spread the word about ways you and others can quickly create additional high-quality homes--using minimal grant funds or cash reserves. Best of all, there will be few sticky strings or regulations to slow your progress.
AtlastaHouse ("At last, a house!") is a program of action, not a series of steps about planning to think about doing something someday. Do it now. Godspeed.