It’s been more than a month since the last public meeting on the topic of the transitional housing project on 22nd Avenue that was proposed by Reverend Jeffrey of the nearby New Hope Baptist Church. No felons have been placed in the home, and as of now there’s no specific date when they might start to move in.
The previous public meeting held in early March was intended to be a starting point for negotiations over a Good Neighbor Agreement between the project backers and members of the 22nd Avenue blockwatch who have resisted it. It was mediated by SPD Director John Hayes, who has long-standing ties to the community as the former Operations Lieutenant in the East Precinct. But the outcome of the meeting left some bad feelings on both sides and talks have ceased.
A blockwatch member tells CDNews that the draft agreement presented in the meeting was too one-sided and was drawn up only in consultation with Black Dollar Days Task Force, which is the primary group backing the felon housing project. The following day the blockwatch sent a letter to Reverend Jeffrey and city officials, announcing their withdrawal from the negotiations.
Reverend Jeffrey says the letter went further, calling it “very hostile and unfair”, and said that it impugned the motives of Director Hayes as being too closely aligned with the project’s backers. Jeffrey says that he and Hayes have often been on opposing sides in various issues in the community, and that he saw Hayes as a fair, impartial arbitrator. He added that the tone of the blockwatch letter has caused Hayes to back away from the process, leaving it without a mediator.
Blockwatch leader Kris Fulsaas tells us that an effort is under way to get State Senator Adam Kline involved as a mediator after he expressed an interest in the issue. But no specific date has been set to resume negotiations, and Reverend Jeffrey told us he was unaware of the potential involvement of Kline.
Jeffrey says he understands neighbor’s concerns and wants to work with them to make the project a success. “I understand their frustrations, and understand their concerns. And we sincerely apologize for the initial lack of communication. We don’t want to divide the community. We believe the blockwatch is right to question things that are happening on their block. What we want are reasonable people to sit down at a table and come up with a reasonable solution. And we’re still hopeful that that can happen.”
In the meantime, backers of the felon housing project have things on hold while they wait to sort out the next step in the process. But they say that they can’t keep things in limbo forever as they’re paying a monthly rent on the house where the project’s clients would reside.
This house on 22nd would serve as transitional housing for recently released felons
Back in ~ 1995 the Miller Park neighborhood and the developers of a proposed sex offender congregate house held extensive discussions, expertly mediated by the King County Dispute Resolution Center. Some details: http://www.box.net/index.php?rm=box_v2_download_shared_file&
We also engaged in extensive negotiations with Oscar McCoy and his supporters, regarding the issues with his bar, Oscar’s II, at 22nd & Madison. This resulted in a mutually acceptable, and seemingly effective, Good Neighbor Agreement. Details: http://home.jps.net/~tayles/Madison/oscars/
Here’s hoping that the two sides can come to some equitable agreement.
With all the sex offender housing we already have in the neighborhood, can we just say no to this?
Let Ballard or Greenlake pitch in once in a while… ;)
This site has excellent information about restrictive covenants throughout the city and other evidence of the history of segregation in Seattle.
Just to clarify, this current proposal is not sex-offender housing. Andrew was supplying resources for mediation between the neighbors and the chruch planning to operate felon transitional housing.
Can people please read more carefully or look at the previous articles before being so reactive?
…and that is relevant to this conversation because???
Sen. Kline’s voting record may interfere with appearance of fairness.
Agree with ktkeller. But also – where is all this sex offender-specific housing in the neighborhood? I know that we have some additional facilities like the one proposed here (which seem necessary and useful – although I agree that it would be nice to have them spread north of the city too, if they don’t already) – but I was unaware of the presence of sex offender housing in the ‘hood – something I’d like to know specifics on. With young children myself I think that would be useful information to have.
When the East Precinct Crime Prevention Coalition sponsored the March 8th meeting at Seattle University, our motives were to find an equitable solution for all of the Stakeholders impacted by the Re-Entry House plans on 22nd avenue. Understanding that the New Hope Baptist Church is within it’s legal rights to provide supportive housing, we hoped to find an acceptable solution as to HOW this program was to be implemented, not IF.
At the March 8th meeting, we made it very clear that the ‘Sample Good Neighbor Agreement’ was just a suggestion, not an absolute. The effort merely provided a framework from which to begin negotiations, the specifics are subject and open to change.
The EPCPC remains neutral in our opinions, and just want to help, if we can. I don’t speak for Director Hayes, but I have not experienced any alignment with any of the parties- at all.
We did not stop having meetings to discuss this issue because we wanted to cease the talks. After the letter from the Blockwatch, we felt that the parties would contact us if they wanted to hold further discussion. We would be happy to schedule another meeting to discuss possible solutions if the parties would like to do so.
Please let me know if this is something folks are interested in via these postings.
Stephanie Tschida, Chair
Would the blockwatch people care to post their letter here on CD News?
I’ve been an apartment manager for years in Seattle and house previously homeless felons, addicts, mentally ill etc at 30% or less than the median income, ($17,700 currently). I have either lived on-site of the properties I have managed or lived in the CD for the last 10 years. Your kids are safe, your house is safe, your neighborhood is safe! Giving somebody a home to set roots in and take pride in will make or break their transition back into society. I believe you will find that most of the people you are so afraid of living next door will be more active than a lot of you in keeping crime off your block (they see things you never will) and protecting what very little they have gained by the opportunity to be there. You should use common sense with any new face on your block but there is no reason to distrust and judge someone because you happen to know part of their history. (I doubt everyone who posts on here has a perfect past) Seriously, the ignorant fear I see from people on this subject who otherwise seem like an intelligent group saddens me. Have the tenants sign building rules, add a clause to the Lease that the building rules are part of the lease- then they can be enforced in court. It’s that simple. Give them a chance.
Just when the CD is beginning to clean up its reputation and begin to attract young, educated, professionals into the neighborhood, a few individuals with acute shortsightedness and suspect motives decide to make it the dumping ground for freed felons? Have you even considered the effect it will have on property values and business development in the CD? Weather you want to hear it or not, the CD is already struggling to overcome its notoriety as a crime ridden area, and now you’re thinking about housing recently freed felons on 22nd? I hate to sound uncharitable, but is this the only neighborhood for this project? C’mon. Do the proponents own property anywhere close to the proposed site? Will they allow this in their own backyards? Do they care about their home values? Ok, go ahead and allow them to house freed felons on 22nd, sit back, and watch your home values plummet into an abyss. I can promise you that.
It’s interesting to me that negotiations for the Good Neighbor Agreement ceased because the Blockwatch did not want to participate. There were many, many other people from the neighborhood that attended the March 8th meeting that are not involved with the Blockwatch. Has the City followed up with their concerns and continued to reach out to the rest of the neighbors?
I’ve contacted the CD News to get in touch with Scott about posting the most recent letter from the 22nd Ave. Blockwatch.
In response to “20two” we (Crime Prevention Coalition) would be happy to host a meeting for anyone impacted by this situation, who would like to continue discussions, not just the Blockwatch. Thanks for pointing that out.
Perhaps you have not been following this story. As reported both in this and previous articles, the project is supported by Rev. Jeffrey of New Hope Baptist Church and the Black Dollar Days Task Force located at 21st and Fir.
Knowing Rev. Jeffrey personally, I do not question his motivation. He is earnest about helping his community. I do see how poor communication led to a lack of trust with the block watch and other neighbors.
Rev. Jeffrey lives blocks from the house, so it’s pretty close to in his back yard. Did he consider the implications of a half-way house on property values and business development? I don’t know for sure, but I suspect he was most concerned about meeting a need. And sees the potential of these people as resources for the community, as Landlord describes.
It is easy to make snap judgments and generalizations about people we don’t know. People are complex, and their behavior is usually influenced by context. I would suggest getting to know a released felon before condemning them all. They just might have some wisdom worth sharing. That being said, we should all work to create a community and environment we enjoy living in, including vibrant local businesses.
At the March 8th meeting, an enormous whiteboard was filled with concerns and questions. What was the purpose of this if not to continue a dialogue with the community? I believe the entire community deserves (and expected) a follow up with their concerns addressed and their questions answered.
Please schedule a follow-up meeting.
I was at that March meeting and recall that email addresses and contact information were gathered afterward by the EPCPC for further talks. Contacting those neighbors and posting a scheduled meeting on the CD News is a good way to keep the community informed and the discussion moving forward, regardless of the Blockwatch’s letter. My understanding after last month’s talk was that there would be a follow-up discussion to address the questions and concerns raised by the community.
Here’s a link to the King County Sheriff’s office if you’d like to search for the location of the sex offenders in the neighborhood…which there are many.
I keep going back to the proposed location. While no one that I’ve talked to about this project disagrees on the need, the people who seem the most concerned speak more to the location (as it is so close to so many schools, after-hour programs for kids, day care centers and other places that support kids such as the library at 23rd and Yesler and the clinic at 22nd and Yesler). I don’t have data to support this but my guess is that many (most?) people who have the support of a transition home don’t re-offend, but there will be those that do and minimizing any risk to kids seems prudent.
I support this project 100%. I live on 22nd just a few blocks down. I have young children and walk by the proposed location regularly. This project should not need anyone’s permission to exist.
somehow my post to this was pulled. You are just interested in linning you pockets for self gain with no concern for the neighborhood. That sickens me.
Yes, I’m aware that we are talking about ex-felon housing, not sex-offender housing. The point I was trying to make is that the Central District ALREADY has more than it’s fair share of crime and crime-related institutions – juvenile hall, methadone treatment clinic, multiple sex offender houses, etc. and wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t add ONE MORE to the mix? Wouldn’t it be great if the risk of societal reintegration was spread out a bit more around the city?