No one disputes the need to house the homeless, especially for those who are victims of years of economic hardships, loss of employment and subsequently the loss ones home.
It is these scenarios, I believe, we as a community of caring people have a responsibility to help those who find themselves needing shelter and food. We are, indeed, blessed to have such an outstanding facility as in what the Rescue Mission has provided over the years.
But, at what point and at what cost should a neighborhood have to bear the tremendous burden, cost and responsibility of shouldering the good intentions of the Rescue Mission and the resulting fall out within and around the alleys and streets of our neighborhood?
If the greatest numbers of those seeking food and logging were, in fact, victims of hard economics times as referred to above, I don’t believe the neighborhood would be suffering such a negative fall out as what has been happening for years. Nor would the police depatment’s extreme high call volume to the area be so high percentage-wise related to public drunkness and crime in the area.
Years ago when S.E. was embroiled in opposing the women’s shelter project, then city manger Darlene Burchum told us there would be no further expansion of the Rescue Mission based on the fact they could not build any more buildings. That expansion was so divisive that one home owner sold and left the neighborhood.
In a recent one year period ending 7-1-11, stats supplied by the Roanoke City Police Dept. reveal there were 1,443 calls for response in the area around the Mission. Of these, 601 incidents of “quality of life” crimes, nearly twice as high compared to the rest of the city. Alcohol related offenses are five times higher than for the entire city. Police data shows 67% – 82% of offenders involved in 173 crime incidents around the mission were residents of the mission. You, the tax payer are paying for this additional need for the police.
After these hard facts, Joy Sylvester-Johnson made this unbelievable statement to the Roanoke Times: “The area around the Rescue Mission is one of the safest in Roanoke.” Ms Sylvester-Johnson credibility has to be questioned. Her goal seems to be to accommodate the homeless at all cost with littkle or no concern for the neighbors in S.E.
What home owner in any part of the city would find this acceptable if it were in or near your neighborhood? It is time for all the supporters and contributors of the mission to say, “No more Expansion and NO more contributions” until you can clean up and solve these problems that affect the hard working home owners in Southeast who are struggling so hard to clean up our neighborhoods as well as our image.
The following is a statement released to the Roanoke Times, by Southeast Action Forum President Mark Powell:
“Crime near the Mission is already at unacceptable levels, affecting hundreds of residents and numerous businesses nearby. An expansion would likely increase these problems. These issues must be addressed in order to ensure safety and well being in our neighborhoods. The needs of serving the homeless population in Roanoke should not come at the expense of residents who happen to live in the area. “
Since I moved into S.E. six years ago, I have put a lot of sweat equity and time in working toward making all of S.E. a better neighborhood. Mark Powell and the new leadership of the Southeast Action Forum, with help and support of our police, code, and solid waste departments have been making positive strides for an improved neighborhood. The Mission’s expansion will only bring in more crimes and problems, further over-burdening the Police Dept and diminishes the advancements we have accomplished after years of hard work. It is detrimental, not only for S.E., but the city as a whole.
-E. Duane Howard, Roanoke