Southern California

Proposed Church Homeless Shelter Worries Residents

The idea to build a two-story complex to temporarily house the homeless in Riverside has many residents worrying it will jeopardize their safety.

The homeless shelter would be built in an empty field at St. Michael's Episcopal Church, located at 4070 Jackson St.

Neighbors who are against it say this is about their safety and their privacy, as the shelter would butt up against homes in the area.

St. Michael's Episcopal Church is located right behind Jan Moran's Riverside home, where she has lived for 65 years.

She said she's worried she'll have even less privacy if the two-story apartment complex for the homeless is built on the church property.

A second story would overlook her swimming pool.

Other neighbors are also concerned about the 50-unit project, which the builders say would house upward of 70 homeless people.

"They're proposing too much for way too small of an area and it's right in our neighborhood," Julie Battaglia said.

Some believe the $17 million homeless outreach project will also be a magnet for drugs and crime.

"I'm just concerned about my safety as well," said Janice Schuler. "They could break in my house."

But Mother Mary Crist says everyone who applies for the low-income housing will go through a rigorous vetting process.

The complex will also have 24-hour security.

"Not everyone on the street is addicted to anything," Crist said. "They're poor and they have obstacles to getting off the street."

The goal of the project is to help the homeless, especially families, find jobs and bring stability to their lives, Mother Mary said.

"They just need to be treated with the same respect we would treat anyone else in our own family," she said.

Still some neighbors say but if the complex is built, you may see a lot of "for sale" signs going up all around it.

"I hate to think that a lot of us will be forced into a situation where we will be safe only if we relocate," Phyllis Warf said.

At this point it's still unclear exactly when the council will make a final vote.

"I don't know if I can stay there if that happens," Moran said.

Mother Mary is hoping to break ground in November.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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