Oxford recovery house to open soon in College Hill

The house at 260 N. Quentin will be used as a home for home for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, but several repairs need to be made first. (April 19, 2016)
The house at 260 N. Quentin will be used as a home for home for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, but several repairs need to be made first. (April 19, 2016) File photo

A home for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts that has been opposed by some residents of the historic College Hill neighborhood will open June 1 if the house can be made livable by then, a leader of the recovery house said Tuesday.

The home at 260 N. Quentin – part of the Oxford House recovery program – will have eight residents by around mid-June. Occupants will start moving in around May 20, said Gene Friedberg, president of the Oxford House group that will live in the home. There are nearly 30 Oxford Houses across Wichita.

The Quentin house is taking steps to be a good neighbor and to be sensitive to the concerns of other College Hill residents, Friedberg said. College Hill residents have voiced concerns about how a recovery house will affect property values, safety and parking.

To be sensitive to those concerns, the Quentin house will have no more than eight residents, and it has canceled initial plans to accept people directly from prison, Friedberg said.

Although the house probably will eventually be home to some people released from prison on parole, other houses will do the initial vetting before any parolees would come to the Quentin house, he said.

“It’s going to be up to us to prove that we are not a menace,” Friedberg said.

Regarding parking, he said, “We’ve studied it quite well, and we think we’re in a better situation than some other houses.” There are spaces in the garage at the house, in the driveway, on Quentin and along Second where there isn’t a school zone, he said. If the house has a meeting that would strain parking, it would get permission to park at one of the nearby churches, he said.

Under the Oxford House program, each house operates autonomously with a charter and rents from a landlord. The sale of the house was completed Monday, and a three-year lease with the owner was to be signed Tuesday, Friedberg said. Members of the new house have already met.

The members of each Oxford House share housekeeping duties, and anyone found to be under the influence must leave the house within an hour, Oxford House officials have said.

Friedberg, 59, said he has been in the Oxford House program for three and a half years and has been sober for four years, eight months and 13 days as of Tuesday.

The Quentin house had gone into foreclosure and has been unoccupied for more than two years, so it needs a lot of work to make it ready for the residents, he said. Work will be done to the air-conditioning system, plaster and foundation. A landscaping contractor will be hired to remove weeds, to plant flowers and to mow. The front steps will be repaired.

“The neighbors will be impressed, I’m sure, shortly,” Friedberg said.

This is the third Oxford House he has helped to open. He said he had been searching for the right home in a nice, safe neighborhood and found it with the Quentin home. It has churches and grocery stores nearby, sits near a good bus route, “and it’s a great neighborhood,” he said. The large house was built in 1920. “It is an old, historic neighborhood.”