Some in Pasco neighborhood objecting to emergency shelter for homeless families

Some in Pasco neighborhood objecting to emergency shelter for homeless families

PASCO, Wash. — How would you feel after hearing two short-term crisis centers for homeless families planned to move in next door?

That's what several upset neighbors are saying they is happening in their backyard, and they're upset because they claim they weren't given a choice in the matter.

"I just found out yesterday by some random person knocking on my door," said a concerned neighbor wanting to be called Ashley.

Ashley doesn't want us to use her real name but said her feelings about her potential neighbors are very real, and she's upset.

"I don't want that right here next to my house," she explained. "I mean, I know a lot of people need help. But not right here, sorry."

The City of Pasco said they mailed more than 40 notices to property owners within 300 feet of the proposed shelters.

They also said it's posted on their Facebook page and website.

Ashley lives near the two homes Community Action Connections (CAC) is hoping to move homeless families while they find more permanent homes.

She said if she'd known they were coming she wouldn't have bought her house.

Pasco Community Development Director Rick White said helping adults in need is exactly what both vacant buildings were built for two decades ago.

He said the non-profit has other houses in the Tri-Cities area, and people working with them aren't dangerous.

"Community Action Connections is a professionally staffed organization with many competent people and good sources of funding," White said. "Generally our experience is they do a very good job on whatever projects they undertake."

The non-profit's Executive Director Judith Gidley said the families needing help are just like the Ashley's other neighbors.

They need somewhere to wash their clothes, prepare dinner as a family, and an address to give the school.

"To be able to do the things they need to become self-sufficient," Gidley clarified. "Children learn better when they have a safe place to go. You can't concentrate on working and doing a good job if you're sleeping in your car."

She said folks qualifying to live in that location are carefully screened.

Gidley said she's happy to hear from neighbors, and invites them to look into their accomplishments since opening more than 50 years ago.

She said she wants a chance to explain what they do, and who they help.

"Our goal isn't sex-offenders, or single individuals," she explained. "It's families with children, and that's the criteria. It has to be an adult with children."

She said each unit will be staffed at all times, there will be rules, and even a curfew.

Ashley said she still isn't convinced.

The homeowner said right now she doesn't have to worry about her kid's safety and she doesn't want to risk that.

"Because my kids are my number one priority, and I need to make them feel safe," she said before clarifying. "And I need to feel safe."

The Pasco Planning Commission is conducting an open record hearing at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 15 in the Council Chambers of Pasco City Hall at 525 N. 3rd Ave., Pasco, Washington.

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