Correction from June 3, 2010: Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Philadelphia Lutheran Settlement House moved to a former nursing home. The location was discussed, but the shelter remained in its original location after repairs. The Lutheran Settlement House serves women and children, not men. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.
Since the proposal to relocate the men’s homeless shelter to a residential area, people have not been shy in voicing their opinions.
Many neighborhood residents living near the proposed location on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard are upset about the move and are worried their property values will decrease.
Chris Moran, the executive director of the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service, said the new building should not bring down any property values. He said he believed none of their locations have had a negative impact on property values.
“Anything that is human service in nature, whether it’s a residential services program, does not typically bring down property values,” he said. “People think it does, but it never does.”
He also said that since the new location is within 1,500 feet of both a park and a children’s nursery, registered sex offenders will not be able to have the shelter as their legal place of residence.
A few years ago, West Philadelphia faced these similar issues with the Lutheran Settlement House, a shelter that has been serving the community since 1902.
One of their emergency shelters was located in a local church, but the site had to be closed after the steeple collapsed. The program was later relocated to a former nursing home with promises of a clean and well-maintained site.
But the local residents were concerned about their property values and neighborhood crime.
Now, years after the debate, West Philadelphia council member Jannie Blackwell said the Lutheran Settlement House is something they are proud of and has actually been a positive influence on the area.
“We found out that property values do not decrease; they can increase because the property is so well taken care of,” Blackwell said.
She said that when people are given decent housing with rules, they are no longer hanging out on the streets. Instead, they are either in treatment or in job programs.
The residents of the shelter are in programs that have them give back to the community, Blackwell said.
“You have to have a close supervision, and you have to have a tight program, and you have to do it well,” she said.
Bill Whitmore, president of the Greater Chapel Hill Association of Realtors, said there are a number of factors that impact property value — including location, condition and consistency
He said that the council is aiming to serve the community better by relocating the shelter but that he can’t say what kind of impact the shelter will have on property values.
The process of applying for the special-use permit for the shelter from the Town Council should begin in June, but Moran estimates 18 months for the shelter to be completely relocated.
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