Churches United/City Council/ Us

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These are the concerns and a talking point position paper written by Debra Carr, Cheatom Assoc. President, about the relocation of the Churches United Homeless Shelter in the north downtown urban family homes area near Cheatom Park, Oakridge, Sherman Hill, River Bend, River Hills apartments and retirement area.
HUD has always worked to reduce and actually avoid concentrations of inner city or core city poverty. Placing this facility in contrary to HUD philosophy for siting of facilities and services designed for this population.

Fact: Concentrated poverty is almost exclusively an urban phenomenon

Fact: All neighborhoods should share/absorb the responsibility for ?“hosting?” facilities

Fact: Site selection process should insure equitable distribution of facilities

Fact: This is an issue of concentration of services in least desirable areas of central city

Question: Zoning issues - is shelter meant for residential or mixed-use neighborhoods?

Question: What is the highest and best use of vacant and or undeveloped and underdeveloped city property

Question: Who resides in shelters ?– what is screening process ?– how are residents monitored ?– what services are provided to support them and address their issues

Conclusion: Site selection process should protect neighborhoods from erosion and also mitigate controversy among neighbors (my problem ?– your problems ?– our problems - with concentrations there will be a placing of blame for issues-problems that arise)

We are empathetic and certainly support the efforts of CUS given our role is housing and the critical nature of the housing continuum as a way to address the housing needs of our constituents.

We are concerned about the proposed site for the following reasons:

 The over-concentration of residential programs that provide services to the homeless, poor, and working poor has the potential to create problems that impact on the respective mission, activities and image of all of the agencies involved
 The 17-acre Oakridge site serves as home to over 1,000 residents and is the largest residential block in downtown Des Moines. Given this the Oakridge neighborhood has worked hard to overcome the problems the existed on its campus in the 90?’s.
 That delicate balance that has currently been achieved could be easily disrupted when you further complicate the matter with individuals who
Need to find a place to ?“land?” during the day when hey are not allowed to be in the shelter ?– the close proximity to Oakridge would make this a likely place for that to take place
 Over 600 children ages 0-18 reside on our campus ?– concern about their safety
 Creation of a ghetto in the core city
 School times ?– early morning ?– late day
 Crime
 Drug traffic
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Relocation history - Oakridge


 Founded in 1992 by 8 local churches
 Mission: To provide free shelter to homeless adults regardless of physical or emotional conditions and to facilitate their move towards self sufficiency
 Current Site Built in 1994 (205 15th street)
 102 Emergency Shelter Beds
 14 Transitional Beds for Homeless Veterans
 Services for 68 men and 34 women 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. daily
 Up to 30 days without case management services and 90 day maximum stay with case management services
 2 meals per day
 Shower and laundry facilities
 Weekly medical clinic
 Group counseling and individual case management
 Life skills instruction
 Referrals
 Cost: $11/guest/day ?– no fees charged to guests
 Board: Richard Grandgaard - President Dan Loftus - VP
James Wessels ?– Treasurer Vu Nguyen ?– Sec.
Judy Anderson Tim Craig
James Ferguson Mark Miller
Charles Schneider
Jean Brown (ED) Doug Van Norden (staff)
 Web Site:

Current Situation/Actions To Date

 Churches United (CU) developed expansion plan to double capacity of shelter
 Informed by city that their plans would not be approved for expansion on current site give recent development of MLK Expansion
 Concern expressed about current location through Downtown Community Alliance (DCA)
 Talks between CU, City and DCA break down
 Greater Des Moines Community Foundation (GDMCF) asked to facilitate talks with parties to try to arrive at consensus position
 Core stakeholders group formed with reps from: City, DCA and CU
 Historical scan completed (attached)
 Core stakeholders-planning group expanded
 Initial questions identified by Planning Group (attached)
 Teree get call from Jean Brown of CU regarding her thoughts on a potential site being discussed
 Teree convenes meeting with GDMCF to get an update on project and express concerns regarding potential site off Keo Way
 Teree share concerns with Lt. Huberty of DMPD who contact Police Chief
 Teree and Becky (in Allen?’s absence) asked to meet with Police Chief and Chris Hensley to hear our concerns
 Police Chief and Hensley defend KEO site and intimate no impact on the Oakridge Community
 Teree follows up with Emma Anderson and GDMCF regarding meeting with Police Chief and Hensley
 Anderson and GDMCF state no final site selection has been made and
Focus on remaining work of stake holder group
 4-3-06 - Core Stake Holders and Planning Group meet ?– site selection narrowed to 9 sites and work set to continue in April prior to May 1 meeting where site info would be shared (site info not available for public review at this time)
Churches United Shelter Letter1


TO: Mr. Rick Clark, City Manager
Christine Hensley,
City Council Representatives
City Council Members
400 E. First Street
Des Moines, IA 50309

FROM: Cheatom Park Neighborhood Association & Concerned Residents of the Cheatom Park Neighborhood

DATE: August 11, 2006

RE: Proposed move of Churches United Shelter

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules on Tuesday, August 8, 2006 to meet with residents and concerned citizens of Cheatom Park Neighborhood and surrounding areas. We feel that homelessness is a problem for our entire community and all of the city should take ownership for an amicable resolution of how to minimize this problem in our community. With such a huge project that could would impact a significant number of individuals and families, we are extremely disappointed why we were intentionally left out of a discussion and planning process that is of great concern for our residents.

We have a number of concerns regarding the process for selection of the site, lack of inclusion of stakeholders from surrounding areas, and the potential increased problems that would be associated with such a move into the proposed site location. Additional questions our residents have is to more clearly understand the City?’s role in this proposed relocation, what are the timeframes for acquiring the land and for the construction of a new facility, and what are the full range of services to be offered. Also, homeowners are increasingly concerned about their property values and the implications associated with the proximity of the proposed shelter and a number of homeowners in Cheatom Park had significant increases in their property taxes.

By Don Curry, Assoc. Vice President
Churches United Shelter Letter2

Cheatom Park and surrounding areas are already dealing with drug problems in and around the neighborhood, to include Royal View Apartment, persons sleeping in Cheatom Park, people wandering around in the park after the park has closed, etc.

We feel that our area has a disproportionately number of nonprofit organizations and we would like to see more business development located in this area. While we support and value the efforts of the nonprofits in our neighborhood and surrounding area, we also recognize that business development helps to keep the economy moving and growing.

We also know that HUD has always worked to reduce and actually avoid concentrations of inner city or core city poverty. Placing this facility at the proposed location is contrary to HUD philosophy for citing of facilities and services designed for this population.

Fact: Concentrated poverty is almost exclusively an urban phenomenon

By Don Curry, Assoc Vice President
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