Editorial: Backyard for the have-nots is becoming hard to find

Editorial: Backyard for the have-nots is becoming hard to find
May 07
00:00 2015

On Monday, May 4, Winston-Salem City Council delayed a vote on the rezoning of a daycare in East Winston. That rezoning would allow The Salvation Army to purchase the property and move its  Center of Hope for homeless families to 939 Cleveland Ave.

The Salvation Army requested the delay  to allow the agency to look into other options. Council has given the agency 60 days to work things out with the area’s stakeholders or find another option for its Center of Hope, which is on Trade Street.

Meanwhile, City Council allowed the public hearing to go on. What happened during that public hearing was eye-opening. It appears that residents near the daycare center in East Winston wanted to vent their frustrations about how their community has been treated in the past, as a dumping ground for the have-nots, and they want better.

City Council members chimed in about how they don’t know what to do with the have-nots, but they don’t want them in their neighborhoods.

Who is speaking for the have-nots, the homeless women and children at the Center of Hope who now must share space with another of The Salvation Army programs in the same building, the re-entry program for federal offenders? Although carefully regulated, this is not the best way to work with either group.

On any given day at The Salvation Army’s Center of Hope for homeless families, 50 percent of the residents are children.

The Salvation Army’s goal is to quickly rehouse shelter residents into permanent housing and help them improve and stabilize income so that they can make an even greater positive impact on the community.

The Salvation Army found what it needed for sale at 939 Cleveland Ave. It wants to turn it into an estimated 90-bed facility. The Greater Cleveland Christian Church is willing to sell The Salvation Army the property. All that was needed was a rezoning approved by City Council. The Planning Board already approved the rezoning by a 7-to-2 vote.

This issue appears akin to housing discrimination. Just as a family who seeks housing with all the required paperwork is rejected because of who that family is, so has a community rejected The Salvation Army’s request because of who it is: an agency that helps the have-nots. Housing discrimination based on familial status is illegal, according to federal law.

At the Council meeting, there was a great deal of talk about homeless shelters, which house unsavory people, according to many at the meeting. The homeless are lazy and are up to no good, if you hear what the public is saying.

But The Salvation Army says the families who live in its shelter are offered  24 hour access to  a safe place with three meals each day and essential services such as transportation assistance, clothing, and tutoring and homework help for children. Shelter residents are required to be in the building by 8:30 each evening unless working, attending church or other community meetings.

The facility is supervised 24 hours a day by paid Salvation Army staff. Families receive case management services upon arrival and are referred to the Continuum of Care’s Coordinated Intake Center  for further programs and services. The Salvation Army’s goal is to quickly rehouse shelter residents into permanent housing and help them improve and stabilize income so that they can  make an even greater positive impact on our community.

This doesn’t sound like an atmosphere that breeds unsavory people.

The Housing Authority and some residents talk about a plan for the area and say that moving the Center of Hope to their area would disrupt the plan. Does the plan include housing discrimination? Does that mean only people with money can move into their neighborhood?

The inference that has been made is that the residents of the Center of Hope need to move into a “better neighborhood.” What if the Center of Hope residents could make the Cleveland Avenue area better?

The community should note that The Salvation Army is a Christian-based organization. It begs to wonder what Jesus would do in this situation.

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