An interview with Taylor D. Wright, Senior Outreach Coordinator of Oxford House of Colorado, Oxford House Inc.
Taylor Wright believes that recovery should be joyful. He is the senior outreach coordinator of Oxford House Colorado, part of a national nonprofit, Oxford House, Inc. that provides the framework and coordination of a network of peer-run, self-supporting recovery residences throughout the country. “Oxford Houses are an opportunity to not feel like there's oversight lingering, and be able to interact and talk about life and have fun together in recovery,” he said. “The bonds that you form and the lasting friendships found in that setting are some of the most meaningful relationships that you can experience.”
Oxford House resident, Alicia Crowell agrees, “I have a lot of support. I live in a house with six other women and we all support each other. We're like one big family and that means a lot to me.”
Colorado has 100 Oxford Houses, mostly along the I-25 corridor, including 11 houses specifically for women and children. Each residence typically houses an average of eight adults, but because Oxford Houses are completely peer-run, capacity can vary according to resident desires and comfort.
The only requirements every Oxford House must follow are that it must be democratically self-run, financially self-supporting, and prepared to expel any resident who returns to misusing substances.“We provide the framework to open new houses and, and for those houses to be filled. But once they have a foundation it's the residents who are holding each other accountable. They're making sure that they remain sober and that they pay their way,” said Wright. “The beauty of it is that their recovery can be whatever they need it to be.”
Anyone in recovery can apply to join an Oxford House by filling out an application and being interviewed by the existing members of the House. Staff get a large number of referrals from behavioral health providers, homeless initiatives and coalitions, the department of corrections, and word of mouth. Wright shared that his team continually looks at applications and referral sources to understand where Oxford Houses are needed, and they are currently collaborating with managed care providers and state partners to address the need for housing and treatment in Southeast Colorado.
Providers can use Oxford House’s vacancies website to look for availability and refer clients. It includes the location of housing, vacancy contact, and the ability to apply directly through the website. Because Oxford Houses are an important partner for people engaging in treatment, providers should also reach out to Oxford House staff throughout Colorado to build a relationship.
Wright explained that Oxford Houses are a good fit for people who feel fairly confident in their recovery and just need more peer support and accountability. “The members really support each other and share what they’ve experienced in their own life, and their method to recovery,” he said. “But if they don’t have the resources or are not getting the feedback they would like from their housemates, we plug them in with local behavioral health providers or staff to make sure they get what they need.”
Building partnerships with recovery housing organizations like Oxford House can help build the social supports integral to maintaining recovery in the community.
Contact Oxford House of Colorado:
Taylor D. Wright
Senior Outreach Coordinator
Oxford House of Colorado
Oxford House Inc.
Learn more about Alicia in her Tough as a Mother video.