Neighborhood residents upset of homeless shelter's prospective move
Residents of the Original Highlands were fired up tonight over a homeless shelter interested in becoming a neighbor. Wayside Christian Mission wants to move its women and children's shelter to East Broadway near Barret Avenue.
Tonight, residents of the Original Highlands voiced their concerns and in some cases, support, of Wayside's desire to move into their neighborhood. Wayside wants their potential neighbors to accept them, but it looks like an uphill battle.
Wayside Christian Mission's chief operating officer, Nina Moseley, handed out flyers with information and shook hands to earn the good will of the people in the Original Highlands, most of whom will be difficult to persuade.
"The streets everyday are full of people that are pretty violent, trying to get money," said Susie McCarty, an original Highlands resident.
A typical room inside the current women and children's shelter consists of two bunk beds that can house up to 10 people in this small room. But Wayside says the former Mercy Academy site would allow every family to have its own room.
Wayside is selling its current shelter and must move in two years. The Mercy campus on East Broadway is available. But many people who live near the vacant building don't want the new tenants to be, as many as 150 homeless children and 200 homeless adults, mostly women.
"When we send out the newsletter for our association, we have to make 700 copies. So even if you take the conservative numbers of 300, we're saying almost one out of every three people is going to be a homeless person," said Kristen Riddick, an original Highlands resident.
Residents fear drug addicts and alcoholics will increase crime, and cause parking problems.
"We can't integrate 300-plus people into our neighborhood effectively," said Riddick.
However, Moseley says the women and children Wayside would house are not like the men.
"There is a difference in the two types of populations. The women don't care to wander around. They are most always within our campus, except when they do go to work," said Moseley.
Moseley says curfews and on-site security would help keep the homeless under control. Some residents welcome the shelter.
"I feel really sure that it's not out of sheer perversity and they're not just wanting to throw some money away to piss off a neighborhood. I have a feeling that there is a reason for it," said Lauren Anderson, an original Highlands resident.
Residents of the Original Highlands plan to go door to door to get signatures next week and to gauge how everyone feels about the issue. They'll then present those results to Wayside Christian Mission, whose board will decide what to do next.