Pubdate: Wed, 07 Mar 2001
Source: Des Moines Register (IA)
Copyright: 2001 The Des Moines Register.
Contact:  P.O. Box 957, Des Moines IA 50304-0957
Fax: (515) 284-8560
Author: Jason Clayworth, Register Staff Writer


Oxford House Inc. Seeks To Avoid Problems With Neighbors And The City

Organizers of a group home for people recovering from addictions are
keeping a new Des Moines location secret to avoid city zoning violations
and angry neighbors, they said.

"When people start hearing about alcohol and drug addicts, they freak
out," said Gregory Corscadden, an outreach representative for Oxford
House Inc. Corscadden is helping to open the nonprofit corporation's
third home in Des Moines this month.

Oxford House helps find homes for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts
to live in and rent. Seven or eight people typically live in each home.

The newest home in Des Moines will be along East 13th Street, Corscadden
said. Tenants are referred from the Veterans Affairs Central Iowa Health
Care System. They will move into the east-side location within a few
weeks, he said.

"It's not that we're doing anything illegal," Corscadden said. "It's
just that I prefer not to have zoning problems before the house opens."

Group homes are not to be within a quarter-mile of each other, said Joe
Bohlke, a zoning officer for the city of Des Moines. Ordinances also
prevent more than four unrelated people from living in one home, he

"When inquiries come in from concerned citizens or city staff, we'll
respond accordingly," Bohlke said.

Paul Molloy, founder of Oxford House, said the homes are protected under
a federal law that extends to handicapped people.

City officials still need to know where the houses will be located, even
if they are protected by federal laws, Bohlke said.

"We have a procedure in place to grant exemptions from ordinances,"
Bohlke said.

Bohlke said he did not know about the organization's other two homes.
The first Oxford House opened in October 2000 at 5601 S.W. Fifth Place.
The second opened in February at 1434 34th St., Corscadden said.

Julie Brady, past president and a member of the Highland Park
Neighborhood Association, said similar group homes have not caused
problems. A section of East 13th Street runs through her neighborhood.

"We just want to know who represents them and whom to call if there is a
problem," Brady said.

Linda Robertson lives next door to the group home on 34th Street. She
said she and her family have had no problems with Oxford House

"As long as there are no problems, we're fine," Robertson said.

Oxford House officials likely will open more of the homes in Des Moines,
Corscadden said.
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