Oxford City Council passed a resolution donating about $74,000 to pilot a cold shelter and transitional housing for Oxford’s homeless community during its Nov. 3 meeting. The funds will be allocated to the Family Resource Center (FRC), which will manage the project.
The cold shelter will be made up of rented hotel rooms. Jessica Greene, assistant city manager, said it will only be used for a short-term stay of a few nights. The transitional housing will be used for more long-term stays.
The FRC will rent six rooms for four months. This will amount to about 120 days during the months of November, December, January and February, but there will be flexibility in the days that the rooms are used.
The funds come from the city’s general fund and will last about a year.
“We have known that a shelter in the winter is something that has been a need,” FRC Director Brad Hoblitzell said.
The FRC will also be doing case management, which will involve connecting clients with resources and housing.
“So often with many of our clients, if we get them to a shelter somewhere, it’s hard to remain in contact,” Hoblitzell said. “But when we know where they are, we can work with them.”
Later, a resolution was passed to spend about $93,000 for a three-year contract with Spectrum to provide free, public internet to Oxford’s parks and two Oxford communities.
Council also passed an extension to Oxford’s Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA). The DORA will run from Nov. 27 to Jan. 22.
Council was presented with a resolution to address Black Lives Matter (BLM) Oxford’s request for a task force to look into alternatives to traditional policing.
Councilor David Prytherch introduced the resolution. He said he recognizes the Oxford Police Department (OPD) has put an emphasis on social services, but there might be systematic changes that still need to be made.
“I believe that any board who makes a recommendation to City Council deserves action by City Council,” Prytherch said, “whether we vote it up, vote it down or amend it.”
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Brandon Humphrey, a BLM Oxford representative, has said BLM Oxford is in support of the spirit of the resolution, but there are some issues with it.
Humphrey outlined four main issues BLM Oxford had with the resolution Prytherch put forward. Most of the concerns BLM Oxford had involved the wording of the resolution which called for OPD and the Police Community Relations and Review Commission (PCRRC) to work together in finding solutions to OPD’s partnership with social services.
“I’m supportive of this, and as I’ve spoken in the past, I want to work with these community members,” OPD Chief John Jones said. “It doesn’t matter how we do it.”
Due to Councilor Chantel Raghu’s absence, the resolution was tabled to be discussed at a future meeting, when all councilors could be present for discussion.
Jones and Elliott explained to council that they would like to survey community members about their thoughts on police services and possibly other issues.
Elliott updated council that, as of Oct. 24, there have been 205 COVID-19 cases in the 45056 zip code, excluding Miami University’s case numbers. This represents 2.2% of all reported cases in Butler County.
The next council meeting will be streamed on YouTube at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 17.