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.”