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My Rant on ... Homeless Shelters!
First - I am NOT against helping the homeless or providing a warm, dry, safe place for the less fortunate to stay, food to eat, or medical care. What I am against is what is going on less than a block from Sami's school!
Springfield has announced plans to 'revitalize' a once thriving area of town that is now the home of several missions and shelters. Many families have been helped to find jobs, health care, and homes through the efforts of these agencies. One of these agencies, the Victory Mission, is for men only. The facility is licensed to house no more than 50 men at any one time, but the operators have admittedly broken the law many times to allow more men into the shelter. Food, clothing, and medical care are distributed. The shelter has become well-known throughout the nation as being a great place for the homeless to go. Less than 5% of the residents are from the SW Missouri area. Known sex offenders are living there. The only rules are no drugs, no alcohol, and you have to sit through a sermon. Drunks and drug users are turned away. One person - ONLY ONE person - is present to screen and supervise fifty or more men.
Now the city sees a cash cow because a developer has submitted plans to renovate the building into retail space and upscale condominiums. The potential tax revenue from this plan is quite large; the loss of services to the indigent is extreme.
Plans to move the shelter into a defunct nursing home have been made. The new shelter will house about 150 men - three times the number currently housed at the existing facility. The new shelter will be less than 500 feet from a Head Start school (for 4 year olds) and less than 750 feet from an elementary school.
The operators have promised that only men who pass background checks and are clean and sober will be allowed to stay there. Two or three video cameras will be set up outside for surveillance, as well as additional lighting added.
That's not good enough. Those who are turned away will remain in the area. Crime will skyrocket. Children will be put at risk in violation of state law, and the shelter operators are the ones who are breaking said law, as well as the city council members who vote to allow this. Drug use will go up. Property rates will go down by 30% or more.
The residents of this neighborhood have worked long and hard to clean it up. Crime is still high, but is much lower than ten years ago. Houses are being restored to their Victorian charm. Gangs have almost disappeared. Yet, these 'geniuses' are willing to throw all this away just for tax profit...
BTW, we have ONE police officer assigned to this neighborhood of 1800 homes, a small little lady named Officer Angela Burgess. She has admitted that she can ask for more help in the area, but it will not be assigned.
I have great outside lighting, video cameras outside, a church next door with great lighting, two good watchdogs....I still find evidence of drug use next door. If all those deterrents haven't stopped crime, how am I supposed to feel that my family is safe when 150 persons of unknown origin suddenly appear blocks away?
AV, GC, anyone? Can you help us?
-03-17-2006 #2SFCRamFan Guest
Re: My Rant on ... Homeless Shelters!
Sam, I saw that on the news. I would not stand for it one bit if it were happeneing out here in the 'burbs. Actually, that is why we moved out here; that and the schools. Unfortunately, when Finney and his other hoods get together and see dollar signs they are willing to sell out anyone for the almight buck. In fact, I think that Springfield would be a better managed and wealthier town without him. I feel badly for you. I am not sure what part of town that you live in and where exactly this is taking place (I think that they said it was on the north west part of town; near Midtown??). I really like what some of the residents in older parts of town have done with those older homes. They are beautiful when they are restored. It will be a damned shame if this shelter destroys this area; if that is the one that I am thinking of. I don't even like Commercial Street and fail to see the significance of it anyway. I am sure that it has an historical past. However, to me, having lived here for 7 years, it is just the homeless shelter street and always will be. Midtown and other areas need to be preserved. I don't have a solution, but it would be nice to get a petition drive going to keep shelters of this type at least a mile from schools and daycares. That is your only hope. However, Finney has too much power and would kill it. Sorry about your situtation. You can PM me if you want to go into any detail that you don't want to discuss openly on the board. I just wish that I had a solution and the means to help.
Re: My Rant on ... Homeless Shelters!
As you may know, the U.S. Supreme Court recently expanded the Eminent Domain provision of the Constitution to allow the Government to "take" (with compensation to the owner) private land for public use in a manner that allows the power to be used for private "revitalization" (as opposed to public projects like roads, parks, wildlife preserves, etc.)
Many people (you may count me among them) considered this to be an ill-advised decision that opens the door for potential abuses.
In the case you descibe, the problem is that people will see only the positive side - an urban area being "improved" by new private development. People will unfortunately overlook the displacement factor that you have described.
There are no easy solutions, to be certain. Given that the courts (who must defer to the Supreme Court) can't help (at least not without a long fight), you should try to influence your local legislative representatives. They won't be able to stop the renewal project, but perhaps (through zoning or otherwise) they can keep the shelter out of your backyard, or at least require greater safeguards.
Re: My Rant on ... Homeless Shelters!Unfortunately, when Finney and his other hoods get together and see dollar signs
I know this is just Springfield, MO we're talking about, but with the SC decision that AV is talking about, this can happen anywhere. If the government wants your land for higher tax revenue, they're going to take it........and don't expect FMV in return."Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod
Re: My Rant on ... Homeless Shelters!
The problem with all land use regulation is that it comes down to what real estate people call NIMBY. Not in my backyard.
These places have to go somewhere, but no matter where you put them, someone is going to be upset. Near a school doesnt seem to make sense, but i agree that the best recourse avaiable to you is your local politician that in theory has the best intersts of the community at heart. make sure you point out that if anything happens to one hair on one kids head at the school, you will present plenty of evidence to the public, the voting public, that the representative knew of the risk, was warned that his consituents objected and ignored that risk anyway.
That being said, i agree that we worship at the temple of the allmighty dollar and chances of winning this type of fight are low. It requires a real groundswell of community support so that the politicians see that any incremental tax revenue is offset by the liklihood of them getting voted out of office, which at the end of the day, is basically all they really care about.
ramming speed to all