As Objections to Supportive Housing Project Grow Louder, Solutions Become Harder to Find

Categories: Development
firstpresbyplayground.jpg
Via.
The playground in question, which would be next to the proposed permanent supportive housing project
As we noted just last month, a group of parents with kids at the First Presbyterian Church Developmental Day School on St. Paul are upset that a permanent supportive housing project (PSH) for the chronically homeless may be going up next door to the school. They're especially concerned that parts of the 141-unit complex will overlook the school's playground, and they're not convinced that requiring background checks or putting smoked glass on the windows of the St. Paul building -- two things the developer, Hamilton Properties, has proposed to placate them -- will make their children safer.

"There is no guarantee that all sex offenders will be prohibited from living in this development," reads a flyer they've produced about the project. "The impact of this facility upon the quality and security of the School's children and employees is unknown, but it is easy to imagine the worst" (emphasis theirs).

"Our first and foremost priority is the safety of our kids," says Kristy Macktinger, who heads the group with her husband Bryan. They have three children at the school, ages 3, 2 and 5 months. "These are the most innocent of innocent children. They don't know about stranger danger yet." She says "definitely the majority" of the parents at the school oppose the project.

Macktinger made her remarks yesterday afternoon at a meeting with Farmers Market-area property owners. Last week, the angry parents partnered with the stakeholders who have long been upset about what they say is rampant crime, prostitution and inopportune public self-pleasuring at The Bridge.

Representatives from the two groups met in Jim and Leslie Ingendorf's building on Harwood. They're trying to band together to prevent any new supportive housing for the homeless being developed in or around the city-owned market. Their most immediate concern, the groups say, is preventing Hamilton Properties from being awarded tax credits from the state that will help fund the bulk of the St. Paul project.

"We haven't gotten a very good response from city council," says Macktinger. City officials, she insists, "acted like we were irrational."

Property manager Tanya Ragan, as you may remember, has been a vocal opponent of The Bridge for the better part of a year now. She says she sees the proposed St. Paul project as another threat to the "economic development of the neighborhood," as well as being a safety hazard. "We don't believe everyone in the homeless community is a bad apple," she said yesterday, perhaps for the benefit of the reporter in the room. "But it just takes one."

Another Farmers Market stakeholder, architect Craig Melde, says the St. Paul Apartments is "a reasonable project, but the wrong location." He'd like to see a PSH "in City Hall's backyard.")

As proof of their safety concerns, both Macktinger and Ragan mentioned an incident during which, they claim, an individual was living at The Bridge and was on a waiting list to be placed in supportive housing when it was discovered he was a sex offender and was wanted for assaulting a child. He'd been staying at he Bridge under an assumed name, they say.

"He could've been in that supportive housing facility," Ragan says. "He was two weeks from getting in. They just have no clue who's in that facility."

We emailed Bridge officials to ask about their claims. Mike Faenza, president and CEO of the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, says he's looking into them and will respond when he finds out more.

Ragan also repeats her claim that crime is a bigger problem in the area around The Bridge than in other parts of the city, although documents previously given to Unfair Park by police haven't borne this out.

"They're lying to you," says Jim Ingendorf.

After the meeting, I called Larry Hamilton to ask about how he'd like to resolve the situation with the parents opposing the St. Paul Project.

"We've never been afforded an opportunity to meet with them and respond to questions," he said. "We've asked for it. It's very disappointing."

Macktinger doesn't dispute that her group has declined to meet with Hamilton. "That's correct," she says. Well, kind of: "We agreed to sit down with him only with the city council people present. We told him that because it's our position that this is a bad location." They'd be "more than happy" to meet, she says, if Hamilton will reconsider moving the project.

Hamilton, meanwhile, says that the church's offer to buy the property from his company, or swap the land with another parcel they owned, was flimsy.

"The church approached us with a rather indefinite proposal to swap land," he says, "but the land that they proposed to swap they didn't own or control. They proposed to try to acquire some land from TXU. And that if they got the land, then they would be interested in swapping it. Of course, our proposal would have been negated. I wouldn't call it a bogus proposal, but it was so full of if's that it really wasn't anything that you could get your arms around...It wasn't a real bona fide offer."

The Farmers Market stakeholders and the parents group are both hoping to air their grievances in front of city council again before the council leaves for their July vacation. But time's running out: They break till August following Tuesday's "new member briefing" the day after the council's inauguration and vote on the gas drilling committee.

And where does the new mayor, the city's former homeless czar, figure into all this arguing? "He's gonna have his hands full," says Jim Ingendorf. Everybody can probably agree on that one.

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99 comments
Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

State law prohibit sex offender from living certain distances from schools and other potentially vulnerable groups.This intelligent group of protesters should know this.How does a window pose a danger to anyone? These kids will be exposed to all types of people in every day life.

PTO
PTO

Per the united parents of this school, this project is DEAD!

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

Last year it sucked to be us.This year it sucks to be you.

Turn about is Fair Play !

I hope you have that sick feeling  as those special hopes and dreams for your little  school are Crushed beneath the dress shoes  of folks who say they are here to help the helpless.Ask anyone in our area we have seen it.

Last year it sucked to be US.This year it is a sweet taste of justice that this year it is you.

We know what you are losing because we have lost the same.

hopalong
hopalong

The Macktinger's live in a high dollar N. Dallas neighborhood where plenty of good schools are located. They need to stick with their own kind.

Ragan says We don't believe everyone in the homeless community is a bad apple," she said yesterday, perhaps for the benefit of the reporter in the room. "But it just takes one."

t only takes one of anybody. People who are or have been homeless are not any more dangerous than the general population. You read about it in the paper every day!

I work downtown and walk to Farmer's Market quite often to eat lunch and also frequent the markets. Not one time have I ever felt threatened or been threatened by a homeless person or any person for that matter and it ain't because I'm ugly. Ingendorf is not doing himself any favor by making the public think the place is over run by the homeless and is unsafe.

People are nuts and I am not just talking about the homeless!

Guest
Guest

Downtown doesn't have a single movie theater or grocery store...

Sorry, I thought for a second that this was a South Dallas story.

Nevermind.

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

There are 47 sex offenders residing in the neighborhood ( Dallas Police website). This does not include those that fail to register, are from out of state or use an alias name.  Since The Bridge does not id, perform background checks and has an open door policy.  The fact is they don't know who most of their visitors are.  It is unfortunate, because women, children and those that really need the help refuse to go to The Bridge, because it has become so crime ridden.  What does that say about this facility? The management at The Bridge has no idea what is happening in their own house and refuse to make changes that would benefit those they are trying to help.  Mike Faenza said himself, that less than 1/3 of their visitors actually participate in any services. How does that help integration into society? Where is the accountability and tough love approach?  My question: follow the money trail. It sort of makes you wonder what the motivation is here. The Bridge and MDHA does a poor job managing their facility now, what makes you think they will do a better job at St. Paul Apts.  Is it willing to risk the safety of children to find out?  

BTW: I live in District 14 and work downtown.

Whodunnit
Whodunnit

Hey, this would be a good first "test" for the new mayor. Isn't he the former "homeless czar"? Let's see what kind of a leader YOU have elected!

Whodunnit
Whodunnit

Where is the "queen" of District 14? Where does Angela Hunt stand on this issue?

Parent
Parent

My child attends the day school.  I am one of the parents fighting the homeless center.  The idea that we are non-christians for wanting to protect our kids is laughable - and doesn't warrant a response.  The day school is actually a secular institution... and the denomination, even the religion, of other parents is irrelevant to many of us as parents.  The only thing that matters is the quality of education our children are receiving - and the environment in which they are learning.  Both are top notch at the day school.  I can guess that many of the people commenting on this article are NOT parents.  Because no good, responsible parent would allow a homeless center to be built next to the playground where their child plays without a fight.  "Guest" is right - residents in Oak Cliff, South Lamar, Lake Highlands - you name it - they've fought this type of institution from coming to their neighborhood - and most have won. "Eric S" - you claim Christians should be held to a higher standard.  Actually, we should all, atheists, christians, muslims, et al, be held to the same high standards - particularly as it relates to our children.  Please do not confuse this with a religious argument or fight.  It has nothing to do with religion.  This is a fight over the safety of our children... plain & simple. "Grumpy Demo" - you are mistaken.  This isn't low-income housing.  This is housing for the homeless, many of their histories unknown.  And there are no guarantees some of them won't be sex offenders. That is a risk we are NOT willing to take, nor would any responsible parent.  We parents do not believe our kids would be safe with the homeless facility literally sitting a couple of feet away from our playground.  We parents do not think this is the right location.  We parents think if the homeless center is built - it will destroy the quality of the school. If we prevent it from being built, it does not mean the Church will end its mission to help the homeless.  In fact, that is irrelevant.  The Stewpot will continue.  The Church will continue doing its good work.  This is about location & safety.  I am not a member of the Church, not will I ever become one, so I am not arguing from that viewpoint.  I am a parent.  And I will fight to protect my child.  "TimCov" - you say if we "did our jobs and watched our children we wouldn't have to worry about this."  You clearly don't understand how life works.  That is such an uneducated statement.  Bad things can and do happen unexpectedly to people each and every day.  And if you knew the day school parents, you'd quickly realize that all are great parents who do watch and protect their children.  "grumpygus" asks why don't we just take our kids "elsewhere?"  We are invested in this school - as are our children, who have friends they've known their entire lives.  Yes, the church does have a homeless ministry.  But an independent developer's plans to build a homeless facility came from the outside, so how were we to know this would happen?  There is NO way to anticipate that type of thing.  And we can't just uproot our children from the best educational environment around - and the teachers that mean the world to our children - and the only friends some of them have know.  It's not that easy.  This is a difficult challenge for the city of Dallas.  But there are better locations.  And putting it next to the day school would harm downtown, an area touted by city leaders as key to the city's future success. 

cp
cp

I don't get it. Homeless people wandering aimlessly on the streets all day and night, peeing and masturbating behind buildings or out in the open is okay, but trying to put them up in actual homes is not okay? 

grumpygus
grumpygus

The people complaining ARE NOT First Presbyterian members. Why don't they take their kids to a different daycare? They know that Church has a homeless ministry.

Concerned Resident
Concerned Resident

Do some research before you post Betty.  Child safety zones are set by parole boards and can be waived under certain circumstances.  A homeless person that convinces the parole board that he is trying to get his life back together and has an opportunity to live in free permanent supportive housing that is right next to a day school is not out of the realm of possibility.  In addition, under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, there are steps that sex offenders can take to get their names removed from the registry database.

And don't get me started on how background checks can be manipulated.  Check out the American Airlines pilot from a couple days ago that got by American Airlines and federal government background checks.  But these parents are supposed to feel comfortable with the money grubbing Hamilton running background checks?  Right...

BoPeep
BoPeep

Picture this...........a deviant resident of the new project exposes himself/herself in front of "their" window facing the children in the playground. If they were to do something like this in "public", they could be charged with "public indecency". I'm not sure if anything could be done to them if they were in the privacy of their own "home".

SPRes
SPRes

Sour grapes man. Some of us have had both of these put in our face, and fought them. We are 'us', asshole.

Concerned Resident
Concerned Resident

Talk to the business owners in Farmers Market and get their thoughts on the crime down there and whether they ever feel threatened.  A homeless man exposed himself to the granddaughter of a business owner just a couple weeks ago.

rover
rover

Women and children are not housed at the bridge. There are other facilities for them. Central Dallas Ministries already has some housing for the formerly homeless downtown and I have not heard any complaints. So, you would rather have people roaming the streets all day with nowhere to go then to have housing? Desperate people do desperate things to survive and at the rate things are going we are all going to have a lot to fear with no housing available. Try it sometime and see how you survive and then see how hard it is to overcome because people think you are a dangerous deviant because you were homeless. It is not fair to label everyone the same and all residents in supportive housing do not come from the bridge. Over reaction is hurting all attempts to help people and it is all due to bigotry and ignorance.

rover
rover

That might matter if the people objecting lived in the district. They don't and I seriously doubt they even live in Dallas! She does not have to worry about their vote.

Milo
Milo

 Parent -  Great comments and you are dead on. This is all about the money, and nobody wants to face the fact that it is statistically significant, that the childrens lives will more at risk, than if the shelter was not built right next door. 

This is a fact that nobody can disprove. If it is built, the childrens lives are more in danger than if it is not. Period. And when a child is molested or kidnapped, then it will be shut down and all is wasted, and a child will be dead. 

grumpygus
grumpygus

If I were First Presbyterian I would say Adios to the parents objecting. There are many who will line up to fill that space who have no problem. You don't own the school, you simply use the services they provide. If I enrolled my children there knowing a shelter is across the street I would expect the population to be around the area. Your kids go home at night so they are not exposed to anything new.

cp
cp

Haven't you seen the scores of homeless people camped out at the Stewpot all day long? They are already there. They always have been. 

Move the PSH now!
Move the PSH now!

I believe First Presby day school is one of the few NAEYC accredited day schools in Dallas and the only one downtown.  But grumpy, that sounds like a fantastic solution:  Let's put in a homeless residence to put one of the best day schools in Dallas out of business.  I am sure all of the workers and residents downtown would really appreciate that.

Why not move it a few blocks away and appease the parents and have a better location where persons with histories of criminal offenses (some involving minors and sexually realated) would not be located directly next to innocent children.

Paricio
Paricio

Yeah, the problem are the sex offenders that go under alias and or lie about themselves. We all need to quit acting like system employed by these shelters are perfect and not prone to mistakes. One mistake, or slip of the system, could result in a dead child. A risk we cannot and will not take. 

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

Cliff Manor was a done deal before it was ever made public.

HamilGreen
HamilGreen

Rover, you have more post than anybody. You must be Hamilton or Greenan???

RIght? You guys really do work hard for the money. No matter the dangers or consequences. Its all about the money!!! 

JackBo
JackBo

Then put them right on top of your children and call it a day. Jackass!

Whodunnit
Whodunnit

That makes no sense. Even if they do not live in the district, they are Citizens of Dallas, aren't they? And, isn't this facility being proposed right in the heart of her district? If all of City Council took the position you are supporting, they would only get involved in issues that affect the votes of their constituents? Or, maybe you are saying that is exactly what is going on........

rover
rover

And what may I ask are you basing your statistics and facts from? You have none.

Bill
Bill

You live in the land of lollypops and unicorns. Get real. The kids will be at great risk. 

rover
rover

It appears that the only ones in the neighborhood objecting are a few parents at the daycare center and they don't even live in the area! I hope the Hamilton's win on this one. I bet they picked that location expecting no resistance since the Stewpot and First Presbyterian Church practically own the whole block already. It is a logical place to build for easy access to services.

grumpygus
grumpygus

There is foot traffic and people in the area every day at the Stewpot and Library. In all the years the daycare has been there they have never had an incident and there is no reason to expect that with people who are housed and stabilized instead of being out walking the streets all day. Once they are housed they are no longer homeless. It is wrong to assume they are all dangerous considering all of the scum we have running around committing most of the crime in the area who are not homeless. If they were not directly across the street from a homeless day shelter I might understand the concerns but this is asinine and ignorant with over the top assumptions of the building and the people who will be residing there.

BigK
BigK

Let's don't forget that the church offered to buy the land outright to build a charter school that could use the gym, cafeteria, etc facilities of the church.  Hamilton is just interested in another "hand out" from the city.  It is amazing the amount of property he gets from the city that he never pays market value if he pays anything.

Facilities that require intense background checks should NEVER be next to a school.  Bars and liquor stores are not allowed within 300 feet of a school.  Why make these children a social experiment when the facility could be right across from City Hall!We should always protect children in all our neighborhoods.  The PSH that was to be built in Deep Ellum by the church was turned down because a high paid PR person and their political connections did not want to do their part for the homeless.   

grumpygus
grumpygus

Because it will not matter where to try to build the housing objections will be raised. The daycare is right across the street from The Stewpot and there are homeless people in the area all of the time. No child has ever been hurt or threatened at the daycare and there is no reason to believe there would be with the building being next door. This is typical NIMBY over reaction found in any area housing has been proposed so far. They always come up with an excuse to object.

rover
rover

Real funny jerk. You might get some respect if you knew what you are talking about. Hopeless, bigoted, thick headed morons are as bad as tea partiers. I am out of here.

Mask
Mask

Is your name Hamilton or Greenan?

Sure it is, but good screen name. 

Guest
Guest

Well, you know, statistically speaking, the average child is more at risk of being assaulted or molested by a member of his/her family or someone else already known to them.

(Again, I'm not saying anything about whether this project is a good idea or not. It's not my neighborhood. I don't so much have a direct stake in it either way).

rover
rover

That is an assumption and still not based on statistics or facts. Where are they?

Statman
Statman

So, if we increase the number of them in a certain area, the risk does not go up???

Go back to college and take a statistics course, so you can make it through the rest of your life. 

rover
rover

No greater risk than they already are and that is not very high considering the security they have. I agree with grump, if there was not a shelter across the street already they might have a leg to stand on.

Yeah
Yeah

Bullshit!!!!

Concerned Resident
Concerned Resident

Don't forget the Farmers Market Group.  They are againt the project as well.  And this is not a "win" or "lose" scenario.  Hamilton got a $1 million piece of property from the city for free.  He already won.  The church has offered to buy it, so he would get $1 million for nothing.  This is about a developer being greedy and wanting to get another $1 to $2 million in develper's fees.  He does not give a shit about the homeless.  He just wants more money.  And people like you are just feeding into this.

Whodunnit
Whodunnit

J. Greenan, and the Hamiltons, have gone on record (in the DO) that they will build "anything" that the City wants. So, guess "who" wants to dump more housing for the homeless in Downtown Dallas?

BMO
BMO

The Hamiltons are the ones that chose to put the USE forward for the site, so they could bag another hand out from the CIty and make another developer fee. So yeah, I blame the Hamiltons, as should everyone else. God Bless you Hamiltons when a child is hurt. You will need it. 

Whodunnit
Whodunnit

They didn't pick that spot at all; check your facts. They got control of that land in "another" shrewd deal by the City involving Forest City and the Atmos Complex. Don't blame the Hamiltons, they are just trying to get a real estate development deal done. BLAME CITY LEADERSHIP! They would have probably put this on the "consent agenda" and quietly approved it, hoping no one would notice.

Concerned Resident
Concerned Resident

You keep saying that there has never been an incident, but do you have anything to back this up or is this just more useless, unsubstantiated drivel?

Developerman
Developerman

You are exactly right Concerned Resident. The Hamiltons didnt pay a dime when they received the buildings from Forest City, who was given the buildings from the City Hall, via an entity controlled by the City. Wink Wink, Nod Nod! You get it. 

Concerned Resident
Concerned Resident

It is my understanding that Hamilton paid $0 for a $1 million piece of property, given to him by the city.  I am not real smart, but it certainly sounds like a handout to me.  I'll call him Hamilton handout, in fact.

Are you happy your tax dollars are going to Hamilton handout, grumpyguy?

Concerned Resident
Concerned Resident

It is my understanding that Hamilton paid $0 for a $1 million piece of property, given to him by the city.  I am not real smart, but it certainly sounds like a handout to me.  I'll call him Hamilton handout, in fact.

Are you happy your tax dollars are going to Hamilton handout, grumpyguy?

Itsallaboutthemoney
Itsallaboutthemoney

You are dead on about the Hamiltons, all they want is that big hand out from city. They could care less if they have the blood of a child on their hands..........they care about the green in their hands!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

grumpygus
grumpygus

All apartment complexes run background checks so that is nothing new. Registered sex offenders are prohibited from being that close to schools too. The parents are trying to make this worse than it is and trying to pull the same PR garbage done on all of the other projects. The government has provided money to the state and city for building this kind of housing so it is not a handout.

Concerned Resident
Concerned Resident

But if you listen to the news stories, the parents are saying that they have security guards that monitor the parking lot that acts as a buffer between the Stew Pot and the day school.  This facility would be built on a zero lot line right next to the day school and have points of ingress and egress directly to that side of the building (the side the day school is on).

If you read the article, you will see the Church has offered another piece of land right next to City Hall and the parents would support this location for the project.  I am not sure you would find any opposition if it was moved there.

You still have not answered the question on why it is OK to put this facility directly next to innocent children?

Oppo
Oppo

Please cut your bullshit. Your argument holds no water, so stick it up your ass, and quit putting children's lives in danger, you fuckhead. 

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