East/Northeast neighborhood meeting turns heated

East/Northeast neighborhood meeting turns heated
June 04
00:00 2015

In photo above: The Salvation Army wants to move its Center of Hope homeless shelter to a building at 939 Cleveland Ave. (File photo)

Residents of The Salvation Army’s homeless shelter discuss frustration with opponents

By Tevin Stinson
The Chronicle

Officials of The Salvation Army and residents from its Center of Hope homeless shelter attended a monthly meeting of the East/Northeast Neighborhood Association to discuss the nonprofit’s plans to temporarily move its homeless shelter to 939 Cleveland Ave. if it can get the property rezoned.

The nonprofit would like to purchase the daycare building that is there from Greater Cleveland Christian Church and turn it into an estimated 90-bed facility to house homeless families made up of mostly single women and children.

Tensions were high at the meeting.

Officers from the Winston-Salem Police Department were there to make sure the meeting went over without any issues. Marva Reid, president of the East/Northeast Neighborhood Association, expressed her displeasure with the possibility of a homeless shelter being built in her community.

Reid went on to say that The Salvation Army does not respect the members of the community, and moving the shelter would add more crime to an area that is already known to have one of the highest crime rates in the city.

“We don’t want crime on top of crime,” Reid said. “They seem to be just recycling people. I see people who have been in shelters for six to seven years. You must change the way you think and accelerate these lives.”

She said the shelter would interfere with plans that were already in place for the area.

“We already had a area plan in place,” Reid said. “I feel they (Salvation Army) are disregarding what the residents of the community really want.”

Reid also said that having a homeless shelter in the neighborhood will bring down the property value of the area.

“Nobody wants to build in a area where there’s a homeless shelter,” Reid said. “This area already has enough concentrated poverty, the last thing we need right now is to add to it.”

Lucy Paynter, who is the board chairwoman of The Salvation Army, was at the meeting to set the record straight about its plans for the building. Paynter, told those at the meeting that the shelter would be intended to serve homeless women with children who need help in the area.

Painter also explained that they must move from their current location on Trade Street to separate those in the corrections program from women, children and families who have fallen on hard times. The location on Cleveland Avenue would accomplish that goal.

The shelter for homeless families is the only one in Winston-Salem, and has been in the city for 108 years.

“The shelter will not be intended to rehabilitate those returning from prison. I’m here to make Paynter, said.

Paynter, said that they have looked into other locations but have yet to find another location that fits all their needs.

“We only have $500,000 to spend on a building,” Paynter, said. “We have looked into other locations, but have yet to find another location that fits into our budget.”

“We just don’t have enough room at our current location,” Paynter, said. “Both programs deserve their own separate space.”

Roshena Blake, a law school graduate and resident of the Salvation Army, voiced her frustration with members of the community as well.
She reminded Reid and other residents that it could happen to anyone and to say that she is a bad person because of her situation just isn’t right.

“We are not bad people,” Blake said. “We have just fallen on hard times. This could happen to anyone, and for them to push us away like we’re criminals is very disheartening.

“Although I may be homeless right now, I have a job and pay taxes just like you.” Blake said. “What happened to me could happen to anybody. I just can’t believe what I’m hearing here today.”

Shelter residents are required to be in the building by 8:30 each evening unless working, attending church or attending another community meeting. Blake hopes that the residents in the East/Northeast community open their eyes and see what this shelter really is.

“These are suppose to be loving, Christian people, I cant believe they would just be willing to push people in need away like this.”
Voting on the rezoning is scheduled for July 20 at 7 p.m., at City Hall, Room 230.

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