City Gospel Mission move passes planning commission

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The debate over what to do with Cincinnati's homeless shelters is spawning differing opinions.

The group 3CDC, whose mission is to help revitalize Over-The-Rhine, is spearheading a plan that would move five shelters for the homeless and poor to new locations out of OTR.

City Council would need to approve the plan.

This comes three years after City Council said services for single homeless people in the City weren't good enough.

The shelters involved are:

  • The YWCA women's shelter. It would build a site on Kinsey Avenue in Mount Auburn.
  • The Lighthouse on Highland, which caters to homeless youth, would also be in Mount Auburn.
  • The Drop-In Center would move from West 12th Street to a location yet to be determined.
  • A new site would be determined for the Talbert House in Mount Airy.
  • The City Gospel Mission would move from Elm Street near Washington Park to Dalton Avenue in the West End.

Mike Pachko of Nehemiah Manufacturing says he's pumped to have the homeless mission located across the street from his business.

He's in the 18-hundred block of Dalton, where they're proposing relocating the City Gospel Mission.

Through the Jobs-Plus re-training program, Pachko's hired several homeless folks, given them a chance and it's worked out beautifully.

He welcomes his new neighbors with open arms.

"We were from Norwood," Pachko said. A little more than a year ago, he moved into the empowerment zone on Dalton, to find folks who are under-employed and get them back to work.

"We've employed 6 to 7 folks down there right now from Jobs-Plus, who are well-trained good folks," he said.

Pachko is ready to take on more of the homeless.

"I am very very challenged by folks who would like to say, these are bad people and we don't want them in our area because we're gonna get hurt," he said emphatically. "That's not true."

The proposed space is a large building along the 18-hundred block, right across the street from his Nehemiah Manufacturing site.

"The location on Dalton Street is obviously close to many long-standing businesses in the area, and of course the Museum Center," said Councilman Wayne Lippert, who knew he was in the minority opposing the zoning change, calling it a matter of safety.

"The safety of visitors going to the Museum Center," Lippert said. "The safety of workers working at the businesses."

It is a high-traffic area, with immediate access to I-75, so that social service agencies, would have a much easier time getting those folks who need help, to this location.

"There's a thought that homelessness is only in Over-The-Rhine, that is not the case," said Josh Spring with the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless. "So, City Gospel purposely tried to site themselves at a location where people could access from all over the county and they've done that."

"I believe they're ok in location they are in," said opponent Dr. Vlasta Molak. "And I think that people should be employed rather than living on the dole and I think by having all these professional do-gooders, they're just continuing the disfunctionality of people who desperately need training and jobs."

"The fact is that the stereotypes don't play out, they simply don't," Spring said. "Helping people who have lost their jobs, who've lost their homes, only helps all of us."

And fear that property values might be compromised, is untrue said commercial realtor Neal Sundermann.

"Things like expressway access, proximity to downtown, the width of the streets, parking for employees and customers, those are the types of things that impact the property value, not really who the next door neighbor is," said Sundermann.

The Planning Commission passed the needed zoning change through Tuesday. It goes before the full Council for further scrutiny and potential passage Wednesday.

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