Iowa City homeless shelter a crime magnet?

By Gregg Hennigan

IOWA CITY – The Shelter House finally broke ground on a new homeless shelter Wednesday.

The project has been delayed for years by legal challenges, and protesters were on hand yesterday at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Opponents of the new shelter site have voiced two main concerns: that their property values would suffer and crime would soar in the neighborhood if a shelter is built.

It’s often forgotten – or not mentioned – that the courts considered these issues and found there was no problem. No finger-pointing here. I’ve left that out of many of the stories I’ve written. The project has such a long history that it’s impossible to fit all the background into a story.

Also, to be clear: I’m not taking sides. I’m just noting that this issue has been looked at by the court system.

This is from an March 2008 story in The Gazette after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in the Shelter House’s favor:

The concern opponents of the proposed location voiced most often was a likely increase in neighborhood crime, and District Court witnesses reviewed arrest rates for the current shelter house and Hilltop Mobile Home Court residents, the Supreme Court ruling noted.

“Although the witnesses differed in their interpretation of this data, a close inspection of these figures reveals that the arrest rate for persons giving Shelter House as their address was likely less than the arrest rate for persons giving Hilltop Mobile Home Court as their address, (Chief Justice Marsha) Ternus wrote in the ruling. “Moreover, there appeared to be more concern about potential crime due to the number of persons turned away by Shelter House than by the persons who actually stay there.”

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2 Responses to Iowa City homeless shelter a crime magnet?

  1. Thinking Voter says:

    The Date about people who give their address as the Shelter House is unrealiable. People who are staying at the Shelter House are considered “Homeless” and have no address or their previous address on their I.D.s would be used for offical purposes.
    Since the time someone can only stay at the Shelter House for a limited time, it is probably not listed on very many people’s I.D.s.

    A better comparison would be the number of police calls. I don’t know about the trailer park, but I know the police are despatched to the Shelter House with alarming regularity.

  2. Eddie Fitzmaurice says:

    I think that this is stupid. People with a lack of chaos in there lives. They will complain about the shelter but they will also complain when some one is sleeping in there shed, I am homeless I don’t steal. I live at the shelter I don’t sell drugs. I my self and most others at the shelter are just trying to put our lives back together. God forbid these people had to walk in our shoes. What happened to humanity? Matt15:14.let them go they are the blind leading the blind if the blind leads the blind they both shall fall in ditches

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