Community Post

Negotiating a good neighbor agreement for 22nd Ave Re-Entry House

Over fifty Central District residents packed into a Seattle University class room last night to voice their concerns and (some) to support the 22nd Avenue Re-Entry House Project.  John Hayes, the Director of Community Relations for the Seattle Police Department, moderated the meeting.  Hayes reminded attendees that they should premise the discussion on the fact that the re-entry project will happen. The audience should focus on making the project mutually agreeable to the neighbors and its founders.  New Hope’s efforts are consistent with a national movement among historically black churches to deal with the problem of a shortage in offender reentry housing.

James Kenny, an Assistant Seattle City Attorney, spoke after Hayes and cautioned the assemblage that even if a good neighbor agreement is reached between Black Dollar Days Task Force and the 22nd Avenue Block Watch and Community Group, this would be a civil agreement between two parties.  In other words, the police and city prosecutors will not be responsible for enforcing the agreement.   Click thru the main photo at left for photos of the draft good neighbor agreement (I will update with a .pdf if Kenny sends me one).

Bill Wolfe from the Washington Department of Corrections then confirmed that Corrections would not have oversight of the 22nd Avenue House in its initial stages.  When pressed by an audience member for the reason, Bill Wolfe responded that the current project had “too many issues”.

The audience was then split into five smaller groups and charged with reviewing a draft good neighbor agreement (distributed by Kenny) and offering questions and/or issues as input.  Here are some issues that neighbors had regarding the re-entry house.  Some of the issues raised echo the concerns expressed in the 2/25 Letter to Reverend Jeffrey.

  • What will be the qualifications of the House Manager?
  • Will the House Manager(s) be present 24/7?
  • How will violations of house rules be dealt with?
  • Draft agreement has language stating that Block Watch would waive its right to file a civil nuisance complaint for violations of ordinances at reentry house – is this necessary?
  • Draft agreement has 20% of representation on re-entry house steering committee to originate from block watch: can the percentage be increased or modified to include other concerned community members?
  • Can neighbors see the “business plan” for the project? Sources of funding/support?
  • Neighbors want supporters of reentry house to address what happens when things go wrong
  • Will there be a clean & sober requirement? Will random drug testing be conducted on residents?
  • What will be the maximum number of residents at the house – keeping in mind that it’s currently zoned as a single family house?
  • Keep in mind that in Washington State, a lot of offenses fall into the definition of violent offenses (e.g. drug offenses)
  • Residents will have the protections of Washington’s Landlord Tenant Act – so how will management be able to quickly evict offenders (since it can take 90 days to evict someone)
  • What are the privacy rights of the residents?
  • It is important to not repunish those that have already served their time

0 thoughts on “Negotiating a good neighbor agreement for 22nd Ave Re-Entry House

  1. I remember that at one of the meetings Reverend Jeffery invited block watch members to elect a member to serve on the Citizens Advisory Board. That would be important for communication and helpful for integrating residents of the house into the community. Was this discussed last night?

  2. A small apartment building next to my house operated as a halfway house for the first few years of my life in the CD. Sometimes it was fine, sometimes there were people smoking crack outside my dining room window. Occasionally a resident would threaten some of us neighbors. There was the semi-frequent freakout by a resident when they took exception to a rule or perceived violation of their rights within the house. At times it was downright scary.

    But I was young and naive and had no idea what to do about it. Now I do.

    If things go south for the neighbors of this house, all the rules and agreements in the world will not help. The State has a vested interest in finding a home for these former inmates, and they do indeed have rights, so the State will be on their side. Not yours.

    The ONLY way to fight back if things go wrong is with a civil suit. And while it is extremely important for the neighborhood to step up and help prevent things from ever getting so bad that it is necessary to go that route, that route must always be there. If only to compel the church to live up to its word.

  3. What are these people to think when the home they move into is falling apart around them? Their cells / living conditions are probably better than the house in question. I was at the meeting last night(3/8/2010), and believe that this can work and hope that it does work, yet I won’t hesitate to make known any issues that arise to the house management. Though I think that the house needs lots of work, maybe Reverend Jeffries would allow the tenants to work on reasonable renovations, that might help foster a sense of accomplishment and importance. I am very skilled, with necessary resources and would be willing to teach and help(volunteer)with projects within reason. I think it is a liitle sad that they are moving into a place that is crumbling around them. I found too many problems to list, but the problems are easily visible from the street and alley (most notably the roof). These folks need to feel good about where they are living, it goes a long way for self asteem! I know a house is not cheap, but it is amazing what a little paint, yard work, and lots of elbow grease can accomplish, they deserve it and so does the neighborhood.

  4. Thanks for the insight, Charlie. I agree: No to waiving rights to civil action.

    Both Jim Kenny and Detective Hayes could not have been more clear that the house is a done deal and that the city doesn’t want a stake in the debate — despite the dozen or more facilities nearby who serve vulnerable populations (not to mention that two-thirds of the room seemed to have serious misgivings). Makes me wonder exactly what circumstances WOULD make the city a concerned party. Is it too cynical to suggest that the city would take a greater interest if the reverend had hatched his plan in Wallingford? Is it too convenient to keep the CD the city’s beacon for the criminal element?

  5. How is it that other neighborhoods are able to “push back” projects such as this in their neighborhoods?? Are there legal situations, powerful members … maybe we should ask. Just the fact that there are so many youth organizations in the near proximity and other correction facilities already here should carry some type of weight … or is it just that the state is so desperate to get the financial burden of caring for these people so great. A lawsuit caused by a serious mishap could wipe them out!!!

  6. The CD has been and is a containment area for everything undesirable that other neighborhoods do not want. A civil suit is the only way we will gain ANY political clout.

  7. This is the EXACT same thing we went through with Casa Latina. The Mayor has made up his mind and it’s a done deal. It is going to be rammed down your throat. You had no say so in it just like over 2,000 residesnts and business owners that signed their names to a petition that did not want Casa Latina dumped in the neighborhood had no say so in it. This is the new Seattle folks. It’s almost an exact copy of Southern California. And they are doing GREAT! So far Casa Latina has laid low and minded their manners, but give it time and the bullying behavior that Casa Latina has displayed in the past will rise to the surface. This area is a breeding ground for all of these supposed humanitarian organizations that are suposedly non profit. I can assure you they are NOT non profit. Now, after the chairs and their assistants bleed it of “due compensation” it becomes a non profit. Unfortunately we have a very liberal city council and they know what is best for us. We might just as well join the communist party. There will be more and more and more of this coming our way. Our property taxes will continue to rise to pay for these organizations. Hmmmm…..Put money toward education to nip it in the bud??? Naaahhhhh……That’s no fun!

  8. They do it because they have one or two or more prominent people that either have a primary or (more often) a secondary residence there. They belong to Rotary, or the Rainier club or WAC or something and they know somebody and it just gets handled. I know it sounds terrible, and frankly, it is….but it is not what you know but who you know. We don’t know the right people; plain and simple. This is just a tiny slice of the pie of what is going on all over the country. The divide is getting bigger, folks. Us “middle” types are fewer and farther between….

  9. Trust me a multi million dollar class action suit against the city will get attention and action.

  10. You’re right. Start looking for lawyers (and set the police department’s phone # on speed dial).

    I was at that meeting on Monday and I thought it was a sham. For John Hayes to “moderate” a discussion that he presented as a done deal was insulting. If he really cared what the community thought, he would’ve asked everyone in attendance whether they wanted that house there or not. Judging by the majority of people’s comments and concerns, a good 85-90% of that room would’ve said, “no way.” And, to placate us with the Reverend’s rough draft of “Good Neighbor Agreement”, which carries no legal weight (and is of no concern to the Reverend) was a joke. It’s been a month since Jeffrey was forced to hold a community meeting and there are just as many concerns and unanswered questions now as there were then.

  11. From everything that I have read, the property is going to be rented out to 8-10 non-related individuals which is completely legal under the land use code since the property is a duplex. I was also at Monday’s meeting and the city attorney made it clear that because the city is not a party to the agreements between private landlords and tenants, the only role that he could play was to help write any Good Neighbor Agreement that the BDDTF and the “Community” came up with. He also made it clear that the agreement was not something that the city attorney’s office would help to enforce since it would be a civil contract between the parties.

  12. I like Casa Latina. They’re good, responsible neighbors.

    It speaks volumes about Reverend Jeffrey’s reputation and lack of support in the community when his own church’s neighbors don’t trust him or think he’s not capable of running this house successfully.

  13. But I thought every one in the CD was really progressive and wants this stuff in the ‘hood so these oppressed can feel your ‘compassion’?