WARREN – Some residents living near the former St. Pius X Church property at 1401 Moncrest Drive NW are expressing concern about efforts by the Warren Family Mission to purchase the property to open a shelter for women and children in his former presbytery.
Warren Family Mission is seeking a waiver from the city, so if they buy the property, it can be used as a women’s shelter. Mission leaders met with the city’s zoning board last week to seek approval for the zone change from residential A to residential B.
After hearing the arguments for the change, the zoning board tabled the discussion, encouraging representatives from the Warren Family Mission to communicate with neighborhood residents during a Monday night meeting of the Northwest Neighborhood Association about what she hopes to do.
Caitlin White, the new executive director of the Warren Family Mission, said the organization wants to buy the St. Pius X property and open a new shelter inside. However, he will not buy the property without the zone change.
The former shelter was located in a two-family house on Porter Street.
“There was no garden where the children could play”, said White.
The old program, which was closed as the mission sought to establish a new home, could house an average of 10 women and their children.
“We want to keep it around that number to better serve their needs,” said White.
White described the program as a temporary refuge where women could stand while seeking permanent housing and employment. Families can stay at the shelter for 90 days.
White said the mission will continue to try to make sure people in the area know what it hopes to do and convince them to support the area change.
“We are not going to try to force it” she says. “If it’s not God’s will, we’ll move on.”
Joe Musick, of Oakdale Drive NW., expressed concern that the shelter was placed in a residential area. He expressed concern that homeowners might retain their home values.
“I’m all for helping people in need, but I don’t think it’s good for this area,” he said.
After Monday’s Northwest Neighborhood Association meeting, Musick said he was unconvinced by the Warren Family Mission presentation to support the zoning change or to have this type of facility installed in the neighborhood.
Musick said those opposed to the zoning should take further steps to defeat the effort, but would not indicate what those steps would be.
Stephen Ruckman, who lives on Montclair Avenue, about a block from the proposed project, went to the NWNA meeting on Monday to gather information.
“I wanted to know how they would screen their customers”, he said. “There has already been deterioration in the neighborhood.”
About 50 area residents attended the NWNA meeting to discuss the proposal.
“One hundred percent of those who spoke were against” Bob Weitzel, vice president, said. “We provided Family Mission with a forum where they could explain what they wanted to do. We are not taking a position one way or the other.
“Residents with concerns should contact the offices of the mayor and the director of security,” he added.
Councilor Todd Johnson, D-1st Ward, sent a letter of support for the project to the NWNA and the city administration,
“Participants will be screened prior to admission for drugs and criminal records and will be subject to strict program restrictions in order to participate and continue to be housed there,” he wrote. This “will not produce any negative effect on the immediate vicinity. It will improve the city and the neighborhood by raising families to better living conditions and being full members of our society.
Johnson said this area of town has traditionally been very busy with people using the site of the former Emerson Elementary School, as well as the former St. Pius X Parish School and Grace United Methodist Church on the other side. from the street.