WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
One of 8 Oxford Houses in Edmonton that provides housing for people recovering from addiction.
The Oxford House Foundation will be the recipient of the No Room in the Inn Christmas offering this year.
The foundation will use the proceeds to renovate and modernize its Edmonton houses for men and women recovering from addictions.
No Room in the Inn is an annual Christmas appeal to Edmonton area churches to help provide safe and affordable housing for those who are homeless or at risk.
Last year the campaign raised $67,000, which was used to help renovate an elder abuse shelter operated by the Seniors Association of Greater Edmonton.
The goal this year is to raise $70,000 to help modernize eight Oxford houses that provide accommodation for about 40 men and women. The houses, located in various neighbourhoods across the city, are older homes that are beginning to show their age.
While residents' rents cover the cost of day-to-day operations and upkeep, extra funds are needed to complete renovations of the houses' kitchens, bathrooms and electrical systems. The anticipated cost of the renovations is $120,000.
Richard Neumann, the men's outreach worker for Oxford House, is elated No Room in the Inn decided to help fund the renovations.
"We have been trying to get funding from the government and everywhere else we can think of so that we can upgrade these houses and make them not only livable but safe for clients, and we have been running into nothing but brick walls," Neumann said.
"Without the money that they (No Room in the Inn) are going to supply for us, we may have had to shut down two of the houses and that would be 10 people back out on the streets."
Every year for 14 years at Christmas time churches participating in No Room in the Inn have appealed for support for a different housing project.
"This year we chose Oxford House because they do good work," said Bob McKeon, chair of the organizing committee for No Room in the Inn, an ecumenical team.
He described Oxford House as a transition house for people in recovery from alcohol or drug addictions. Residents go to some form of detox before moving into an Oxford House.
"Rather than go back to the situation that led to their problem, they go to a home with a supportive environment where they can begin to make a life transition and that may take a couple of years."
The Oxford houses are fully furnished with all the amenities. Residents go to school or work and can stay for as long as necessary.
The houses are located in suburban neighborhoods away from areas with significant drug and crime activity. Residents take part in looking after the house and do their share of the chores.
About 60 churches from eight denominations, including 15 Catholic churches and organizations, participate in the No Room in the Inn campaign.
"I encourage people to contribute. It's an important part of preventing homelessness. People who are heavily into addictions are at high risk of homelessness," warned McKeon.
"If we can support these people trying to make healthy choices in their lives, it can really make a difference at the end of the day."