City council approves investment into construction of homeless shelters

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The City of Cincinnati is investing $1 million to build, rebuild and relocate three homeless shelters across the Queen City.

But the fate of one, City Gospel Mission, is in the hands of Judge Pat DeWine.

Cincinnati City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday afternoon to approve the money for the "Homeless to Homes" campaign.

Eventually, the city plans to pledge $10 million towards the project. A breakdown of where that money comes from can be found here.

The plan outlines moving the City Gospel Mission from Over-the-Rhine to the West End and Queensgate areas. The Drop Inn Center has not determined a location but says it does need a new facility. The Y-W-C-A is also planning to expand from its downtown location and build a new women's shelter in Mount Auburn.

But the decision to move the City Gospel Mission does not come easy. Nearby businesses and neighbors in the West End and Queensgate neighborhoods are against the idea and say the decision to move forward is illegal.

"We don't mind some in our backyard but not all in our backyard," says Dave Petersen.

Living in the West End for the last 14 years, Petersen says the city pushed a notwithstanding order through without getting public opinion.

"The zoning requires community input and this notwithstanding totally eliminated that so we felt we were cut out," says Petersen.

City council member Laure Quinlivan voted for the plan.

"I think it's a great idea because for the first time all of these agencies that do work with the homeless are communicating, coordinating, and really doing best practices and that's what we want," says Quinlivan.

In the middle of the road is the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition. It's executive director Josh Spring says the plan has both negatives and positives.

"City Gospel Mission will double their capacity. That is a clear gain but we believe that dollars should also be invested in housing and prevention and not in the simple movement of existing working shelter beds," says Spring.

Thursday afternoon in Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas, the plaintiff's attorney, Peter Koenig explained why his clients think the move is unconstitutional.

"Putting a homeless shelter in the middle of a manufacturing district is a mistake and it will have a negative impact on the property values in the businesses in Queensgate," says Koenig.

In defense the city's attorney, Tim Burke, argued city council is not breaking any laws and the area is not zoned just for industrial businesses.

"What's going on here is the neighbors don't like it. Finding ways to address the needs of Cincinnati's homeless is a critical thing to be done and city council got this one done right," says Burke.

Judge Pat DeWine is expected to make a decision by the end of next week.

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