Oxford faces an increase in social service demands


Photo by Jillian INks

Seth McFarland and Budd Jones of the Metropolitan Housing Authority discuss the Butler Metropolitan Housing Authority voucher program with Oxford landlords Oct. 11.

By Jillian Inks

The past year has strained social service agencies in Oxford that serve the homeless beyond their previous limits. 

Earlier this year, the Oxford Family Resource Center was forced to raise an additional $15,000 to handle a 6% increase in demand from December 2021 to March 2022 for emergency housing at the Budget Inn.

The organization was forced to rent an “additional six to seven rooms,” said Ann Fuehrer, a founder of Oxford Homeless Network.

TOPSS’s pantry before restocking day which is every Tuesday. Photo by Jillian Inks

Executive Director for the Talawanda Oxford Pantry and Social Services Sherry Martin said this summer clients visited both for curbside and in-person food pick-up more than ever. The pantry served “195 households” in August. In September, they served 224 households Martin said.

The U.S Department for Housing and Urban Development defines affordable housing as housing that does not cost more than 30% of a household’s income, including utilities. A lack of affordable housing in Oxford, city officials say, is one of the major contributors to homelessness here.

“Our number one industry here is student housing,” said Oxford City Manager Doug Elliott. Student rentals tend to be priced higher than family rentals.

A household’s problems can be compounded if it falls behind on rent.

“Once you have a history of eviction then getting a landlord to rent you is more difficult,” Fuehrer said. “It’s a combination of living in poverty and all that goes with it.”

Nicola Rodrigues, the Family Resources Center executive director, met with Oxford landlords this week to encourage them to accept vouchers from the Butler Metropolitan Housing Authority for rent. With a voucher, the tenant pays 30% of the rent, while the remaining amount is paid by the housing authority.

According to the U.S Census Bureau, the median gross rent for households in Oxford was $841 per month compared to the Butler County median of $911 and the national median of $1,096.