Last month a large group of neighbors packed Calvary Lutheran Church after hearing that the church was planning to house 20 homeless men.
After the emotional meeting, five neighbors gathered up the complaints, questions and concerns and presented them at a smaller, private meeting with three from the church and seven from SHARE/WHEEL, the group that organizes the nighttime shelters. One of the members of the neighborhood group, who wishes to remain anonymous, tells My Ballard that last week’s meeting was “friendly, productive and we’re moving forward.” He says the concerns were boiled down to two main points. The first, he tells us, is the vacancy of the building. Many neighbors are requesting that the church provide supervision and make sure the men staying there are held accountable. The second point is that the majority of neighbors have insisted on background checks. Specifically a search of the sex offender database.
The neighborhood group conducted an unscientific poll, and they discovered that roughly one-third of neighbors within a three-block radius of the church opposed the shelter, some feeling that Ballard has taken in more homeless than other neighborhoods. One-third of the neighbors support the shelter with conditions and one-third are supportive as is. There are also a few on either end of the spectrum: absolutely against it and absolutely for it. He says that “the amount of neighbors participating is surprising.”
According to the neighbor, members of the church are now working on an agreement with SHARE/WHEEL. He was pleased with the outcome of last week’s meeting and says, “from our point of view, they’re trying.” There are plans to hold another public meeting in the next few weeks.