Simplified: A religious nonprofit recently purchased some apartments in the All Saints neighborhood near downtown. The goal is to expand halfway house programming for people leaving incarceration, but both neighbors and the city say the plans came as a surprise.
Why it matters
- Kingdom Boundaries' current facility is full, and plans to build a new facility on West Maple Street were paused due to rising construction costs, Ministry Director Jeff Haverhals said. The apartments on South Dakota Avenue would allow the nonprofit to house another 35 people in addition to the 20 in the existing location on South Summit Avenue.
- The All Saints Neighborhood Association called for a community meeting last week to figure out what the future plans were for the property. It was at that meeting when city Senior Planner Jason Bieber confirmed the property would need to be rezoned before it could operate – something organizations typically do before they complete the purchase, he added.
- Now, the City Council will have to decide if the nonprofit can use the property it has purchased to continue its mission while also taking into account feedback from neighbors like Rachael Meyerink who said she's not sure a halfway house aligns with the future "vision" of the neighborhood.
“It’s not so much that I am concerned for my safety,” Meyerink said. “It’s more that I am concerned this would be something not aligning with what the All Saints Neighborhood has been doing the last 10 years … The city would have to convince me that a halfway house – that that would be in the best interest of our neighborhood.”
Tell me more about Kingdom Boundaries
Kingdom Boundaries helps men who've gotten out of incarceration adjust to life outside of jail or prison.
The nonprofit's current facility – which has been operating near 13th Street and Summit Avenue for about eight years now – houses 20 men and provides additional services like trauma support, addiction help and sharing practical life skills like balancing a checkbook, Haverhals said.
"When you go into prison when you're 16 and come out when you're 40, how much of that stuff do you think you'd know?" he said. "We're trying to fill that gap."
If the city grants the rezone and subsequent conditional use permit needed to operate a halfway house in the Dakota Avenue apartments, Haverhals said the plan is to move the men there and use the existing 20-unit facility to open up services to women.
Tell me more about the neighborhood and city response
The city, neighbors and the nonprofit all agreed the meeting last week went well.
For the city, it was a way to provide clarity on the process needed to operate halfway house services on the property.
"I wish they wouldn't have purchased it before they tried to rezone," Bieber said, adding that while it complicates the decision for councilors, there is precedent for halfway houses to operate in residential neighborhoods around town – like the St. Francis House, for example.
For neighbors, it was good to learn more about Kingdom Boundaries and how it runs its programming, but neighborhood association president Katrina Lehr-McKinney said it's too soon to say if neighbors will support the rezone.
"This is a really, really, really complicated issue," she said. "I don't know the answers yet."
Ultimately, though, it's not up to neighbors to decide. It'll be up to the City Council to vote one way or another on the nonprofit's request to rezone the property.
What happens next?
Haverhals said he's going to go through the process to rezone the property and apply for the necessary conditional use permit.
Then it'll be up to the council to decide whether to approve the rezone.
Meanwhile, neighbors will continue to work to come to a consensus about the project so the neighborhood can speak with a united voice to let the city know what it wants, Lehr-McKinney said.