Family Resource Center supports Oxford community through pandemic struggles

Family+Resource+Center+located+on+College+Corner+Pike

Photo by Family Resource Center

The Family Resource Center on College Corner Pike, helps find housing and other services for those in need

By Abigail Kemper

Where do you go when you do not know what help you need? 

The Family Resource Center (FRC) is a non-profit organization in Oxford whose mission is to create a safe and healthy community. It works with residents of the Talawanda School District struggling with poverty.

COVID-19 has caused a shift for many families. With the loss of income, staying in their homes became a struggle, so FRC has focused on housing assistance this summer, said Executive Director Brad Hoblitzell. 

During the initial economic downturn due to COVID-19, evictions were prohibited and some utility and rent payments were not penalized, said Hoblitzell. With those temporary fixes being lifted later in the summer, the housing needs became greater than ever, he said. 

In August, we had 20 distinct cases of rental assistance, utility assistance, or situations of assisting clients in obtaining housing,” Hobliztell said. “We are projecting September to be even busier and this to continue beyond the end of 2020.”

Some families who have lost their regular incomes are seeking help for the first time. The virus not only affected those already struggling but brought new clients to the FRC.

“We’ve seen a lot of new people, people that we haven’t served before, but have found themselves in this position for the first time,” Hoblitzell said.

Hoblitzell divides FRC services into three categories: resources, assistance and advocacy. The staff connects clients to other resources, provides emergency financial assistance and advocates for the client’s ability to receive education, employment and housing.

“We feel very strongly that many of our clients and members of our community need advocates,” Hoblitzell said. “We want to stand with them…and walk them through the process of achieving those things.” 

Nicola Rodrigues, a client specialist with the agency, said housing struggles are a common problem at the FRC. 

“Finding affordable housing for low income or homeless clients in Oxford is always challenging and can take a very long time,” Rodrigues said. 

After an eviction is put on a client’s record, finding housing is challenging because no one wants tenants who have a history of evictions, Hoblitzell said. 

“Preventing an eviction is preventing homelessness,” Hoblitzell said. “Over the past six months with COVID, that’s been our real focus: Keep people where they’re at.” 

The FRC, 5445 College Corner Pike,  also helps clients who are homeless get proper documentation to get them into shelters. 

“There’s not a shelter in Butler County that will take you if you’re homeless and do not have an ID,” Hoblitzell said. 

In addition to housing needs, the FRC has been able to provide food and financial assistance during the pandemic. Whatever clients need, the staff tries to find the correct avenue for them. 

“We have also been able to reach out with food assistance and help clients navigate benefits and services to get through this pandemic,” Rodrigues said. 

Rodrigues said the FRC has remained open during the pandemic to serve the community. Staff, and interns, have been assisting through phone and email with clients that have internet access. Walk-ins require proper social distancing and masks. 

“We are doing our best to assist as many people as we can, given the current situation we are all living in,” Rodrigues said. 

FRC interns help with volunteer work around the center. Heather Rowe, a recent Miami graduate, has been interning since mid-July. 

Rowe connects clients to immediate resources or sets them up for a meeting to find out how the FRC can assist. She is impressed with how dedicated the agency is.

“They try to work with everybody,” Rowe said. “They will scrape the bottom of the barrel just to help somebody out if they can.” 

The center is ready to serve its community, pandemic or not. The hardest thing for the staff is finding out situations too late. 

“If you know someone who needs help, reach out to us,” Hoblitzell said. “We are here and we do want to help.”